Before Devin Bush faced the media on Friday afternoon, his back turned away from the scrum, his eyes fixated on the interactive touch screen behind him in Schembechler Hall. On the screen, you can sift through a catalog of Michigan football greats.
The junior linebacker isn’t on that list yet, but he will be soon.
“I checked the box,” Bush said. “This is history now.”
Bush — a projected first round pick in April’s NFL Draft — spoke to the media following Michigan’s Pro Day, where he only completed positional drills, and skipped NFL Combine drills such as the 40-yard dash and bench press. Bush impressed at the Combine in early March, running a 4.43 40-yard dash and a 40.5-inch vertical leap.
After Bush spoke, junior defensive end Rashan Gary, the Wolverines’ other projected first rounder and potential top-ten pick, followed with similar confidence after a promising showing at the Combine. Gary only weighed in at Michigan’s Pro Day, and described his role on Friday as “another mouth in their ears” for the other Michigan players participating.
“I feel like it’s time to get back to football, I’ve got a lot of parts of my game that I need to improve,” Gary said on why he forewent drills. “It’s time to get ready for rookie mini-camp, OTAs. That’s what I’m focused on. … I feel like I did what I have to do at the Combine.”
A reporter asked Gary why he had previously thought of himself as the best player in the draft, as Gary had claimed at the Combine.
“Thought or know?” Gary questioned. “Yeah, I know I’m the best player in the draft, offensively and defensively.”
The overwhelming conviction displayed by the pair is unsurprising. The two-year starters tallied 19.5 sacks together, showcasing freakish athleticism as leaders on college football’s No.1-ranked defense.
While the two offer seemingly congruent pathways to becoming potential first-round pick, they both gave separate explanations for how they have marketed themselves to the NFL teams they have been meeting with.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I can do it,” Gary said. “… I’m really a swiss army knife. Any playbook that you put me up against, any system that you need I can fit it. That’s what makes me the best player.”
For Bush, it’s about squashing preconceptions of his short stature, a reference demonstrated by the hashtag “#Undersized” he has been posting on social media.
“That’s one of the things I take pride in,” Bush said. “I want to attach my name to that. I want to be undersized, I want to be that guy. I want to change it for the athletes behind and the young athletes that’s growing up and not prototypical and always the biggest or tallest or the strongest.
“You don’t gotta worry about what people say as long as you’re producing and believing yourself.”
Besides a high projection, Gary and Bush also shared details of a loaded schedule of team workouts and meetings. Bush could only recall two teams that he hadn’t come across. Gary had trouble remembering all of the teams he has scheduled coming up.
But one thing is certain: Gary and Bush are satisfied with how the draft process has gone. They both showed indifference to where exactly they get drafted next month, citing team fit as the main priority.
Combining impressive workouts, media attention and on-field production, though, both of their names are likely to be called on day one.