When Greg Mattison heard what happened on the field with Devin Bush, Jr., at Spartan Stadium prior to the Michigan football team’s game against Michigan State, he did not bat an eye.
Michigan’s veteran defensive line coach has been around Bush, a junior linebacker, for three years now. He has seen the emotion he plays with up close and personal many times.
“I don’t know how you are, but I’m no one of those guys that when somebody does something to you, I’m not going to walk away like no big deal,” Mattison told reporters earlier this week.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines, riding an eight-game winning streak, plays at Rutgers on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
“He showed his emotion right there. Now, whether that was right or wrong, that’s Devin. And that’s why Devin is a premiere linebacker in this college football game right now.”
Bush was reprimanded, along with head coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, for the pre-game ruckus on the field prior to the Oct. 20 game that ended with him trying to kick up the Spartans logo on the field.
Afterward, Bush, a defensive co-captain, declined to apologize for his actions, instead saying he acted on his emotions.
“When you put as much into playing like you’re supposed to, like our kids have, when people do that — when people disrespect you, people don’t treat you like you feel you should be — then you’re going to show some emotion,” Mattison said.
“It showed how much it meant. It showed how much the rest of his teammates meant to him.”
Through nine games, Bush leads Michigan (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) in tackles with 56, seven of which were for a loss, and has the second-most sacks at 4 1/2. His hyper-aggressive style and speed make him one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.
Last year, Bush was a first-team all-Big Ten selection by the coaches.
“I keep saying it and I mean this: he’s got tremendous character,” Mattison said. “He’s a great young man. He’s intelligent. And after I say that, I go, ‘Because he’s a Michigan man.’ And I mean that.
“All you had to do was watch the film and see how he played. Go ahead and do it again if you want — see what happens.”
Asked earlier in the week about his captainship, Bush says he has changed nothing since the start of the season.
“I was the captain because guys saw something in me that led me to (being) captain,” Bush said. “If I changed now, I wouldn’t be who they voted for at the time. So, I kind of kept things the same. I was me and always been true to me.”