University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes safety Deon Bush perseveres on and off the field

UM defensive back Deon Bush talks with a reporter after practice Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Coral Gables, Fla.
UM defensive back Deon Bush talks with a reporter after practice Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Coral Gables, Fla. AP

Miami Hurricanes senior safety Deon Bush, a natural talent who nonetheless hasn’t had the breakout season he envisioned, said he intends to continue fighting to make this season’s ending a better one than in 2014.

“I wanted to do better,” Bush said this week, “but that’s part of the game. The only thing you can do is try to improve each day, work hard and get ready for the next level if I get the opportunity.”

Bush will likely get the opportunity. With Miami (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) preparing for its final regular-season home game Saturday against Georgia Tech (3-7, 1-6), Bush has 39 tackles, four pass breakups, a fumble recovery, sack and interception. His season was briefly interrupted when he was ejected for targeting in the fourth quarter against Nebraska, then had to sit out the first half against Cincinnati.

“That was a play that hurt me a little bit,’’ he said. “But it didn’t affect the way I played the rest of the season.”

However the season ends, one of Bush’s proudest accomplishments came off the field when he was one of 22 college football players around the country named to the 2015 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, considered one of the most significant off-the-field honors in college football.

Bush was voted to the team for his extensive community service, including helping to add more than 500 donors to the Be the Match Bone Marrow Drive’s national registry.

He also used his own per diem money during last year’s bowl game to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged youth.

The Good Works Team voting panel of 11 former football players, coaches and media members included college football analyst Jesse Palmer of ESPN.

Earlier this season, Palmer said there were 197 nominations to be whittled down to the final 22.

“As a voter you sit down and go through the credentials of each student-athlete and pick your team,” Palmer said. “Certainly, during my time at ESPN I’ve covered Deon a lot on the field. But when I read his résumé it was eye-popping, incredible. It stood out.

“I remember how much limited time I had away from football and away from school when I played at [the University of] Florida. I remember trying to balance a social life and football and school with community service was difficult. What really impressed me about Deon was not only how much he did but how diverse it was — the Be the Match work over four years and making regular visits to nursing homes and elementary schools, serving food to the homeless, and more. He’s done so many things to help awareness to different causes, which I thought was unbelievably impressive.”

On the field, Palmer called Bush “an extremely aggressive player — not in a bad way — just very physical and eager to be involved in the running game. Not a lot of times you see DBs that run-support the way Deon does. I wouldn’t say he plays recklessly but he does play violently, and it’s normally legal.”

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