Devin Bush stood at the 50-yard line of Flanagan High’s football field flanked by coaches, athletic directors and elected officials and held a framed black jersey high into the air.
His spot in Falcons football lore is safely secured.
It was just four years ago that Bush was playing here, anchoring the Flanagan defense as a senior en route to the school’s most recent Class 8A football state title.
Fast forward to today and Bush is thriving in his rookie NFL season after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 10th overall pick in April’s draft.
And on Thursday, with the Steelers on their bye week, Bush returned to that same high school field in Pembroke Pines where his career took off as the school retired his No. 11 jersey before their non-district game against Hallandale.
“For them to retire your jersey is really saying, ‘You’re probably one of the best to come through this school and wear that number. We’re not going to let anyone else wear it.’ That speaks volumes,” Bush said. “I’m just so appreciative to come back and be here in the flesh. I’m just so happy right now.”
Bush is already making himself known in the NFL. The 5-11, 234-pound linebacker leads all rookies and is tied for 10th in the NFL with 52 tackles heading into Week 7. Bush also has two interceptions and a sack through his first six games.
His time in high school and college gave a glimpse of what was to come.
Bush was a Miami Herald first-team All-Broward football selection his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He was named the county’s Big School Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after recording 67 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on that championship run. Bush had seven tackles in the Class 8A title game victory over Osceola.
Stepping back on this field — the one he called home not too long ago — brought back memories.
“I’m just thinking about how much this community and this school helped me grow as a person and all the relationships that I’ve built here,” Bush said. “Just to come back and see that I give these people hope and I put smiles on their faces, it just makes me feel that much better about myself and encourages me to keep going and take that extra step.”
From there, Bush went on to become a two-time All-American at Michigan, where he recorded 194 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 15 defended passes over three seasons.
And now, he’s a starting linebacker for the Steelers and plans to be a fixture in the league for a long time.
“I’m still learning,” Bush said. “I still have a lot to learn. I have a long season ahead of me. I’m determined to keep learning and staying on top of my craft.”
He’ll face a familiar opponent next week: The hometown Miami Dolphins.
“It’s going to be crazy just to be out there and playing against the Dolphins and seeing those colors and that emblem on those helmets,” Bush said. “It’s going to be a fun one.”