In four NFL seasons since getting drafted out of the University of Miami, Deon Bush has gotten spot starts as a backup safety for the Chicago Bears and contributed on special teams.
He sees an opportunity to be a full-time starter for the first time alongside All-Pro Eddie Jackson, a former Broward County high school standout at Boyd Anderson, after re-signing with the Bears on a one-year, $1.4 million contract.
“This year, I think I’m finally going to get a fair shot to compete for the starting job, so that’s something that I’m trying to capitalize on,” Bush told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Saturday from his foundation’s back-to-school backpack drive in south Miami-Dade County.
“That’s something that I’ve been eyeing for a long time — since I’ve been in the league — but I know I could do it. It’s a matter of time, whenever I get that opportunity.”
Bush, a fourth-round draft pick of the Bears in 2016, was behind Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on Chicago’s depth chart at safety last season. Clinton-Dix then signed with the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason.
The Bears also signed veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, but coach Matt Nagy told Chicago reporters last month that there will be competition to start opposite of Jackson.
After starring at UM and Miami Columbus in high school, Bush has gotten eight starts at safety — the most coming as a rookie in 2016 when he had six and was in on 31 percent of Chicago’s defensive snaps. Increasing his activity on special teams every year, Bush has 44 career tackles, a sack, forced fumble and three pass deflections.
As Bush opted to re-up with the Bears this offseason, his former Hurricanes teammate, Artie Burns, will join him in the secondary. Bush was with Burns, who attended Miami Northwestern before UM, the day he decided to sign with Chicago after four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It was definitely exciting because we played in high school a little bit, little 7-on-7 things and go to college and play together, and to be able to play again at the next level is something amazing,” Bush said. “We already got chemistry built up because we know each other and we’re really cool with each other. We’re family, so it’s going to be fun.”
With Jackson, Bush and Burns, the Bears have three South Florida products in the secondary.
“It’s a good vibe out there with them,” Bush said.
Along with Bush and Burns, two other former Hurricanes are in Chicago with tight end Jimmy Graham signing there this offseason and punter Pat O’Donnell since his rookie year in 2014.
Bush has remained as active as he could given the limitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just never stopped training,” he said. “Ever since the end of the season, I’ve just been training. I tried to make the best of the corona situation and made sure I just stayed in shape.”
Bush’s foundation, Doby’s Dreams, supports at-risk youth in Miami and Chicago. It honors his father, Gary Bush, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2017 and was nicknamed Doby.
“A big value that he had was always giving back, always showing love, using my platform to be able to reach people,” Deon Bush said. “That’s something I like to do.”
Among Bush’s initiatives with the foundation, he has handed out Christmas gifts and held back-to-school supply drives, like on Saturday. Parents of children that were on a list of area elementary and middle schools drove up to RR Moton Elementary School to pick up backpacks handed to them from Bush.
“When I see these kids, I see myself,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of uncertainty if they’re going to have school or not, but I think it was good to try to do something nice for them since they’ve been through a lot.”
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