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  Thomas Rush knows how his brain works. He's the analytical sort, someone who assesses a situation and applies the data he's acquired to an orderly plan. Definitely a color-inside-the-lines guy. "That's just kind of who I am and how I've always been,'' the Gophers senior defensive end said. Yet to tap his full potential, Rush has had to use the right side of his brain, too. In doing so, he followed the advice of Boye Mafe, the former Gophers end who combined intelligence and jaw-dropping athleticism to become a second-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks this spring. "Boye has a really good feel for just being natural and being a player," Rush said. "… What I took from him was being able to be in what we would call 'fit ball' and play football at the same time. You know your role; you know your responsibility. Just go play and be natural and let loose a bit." The result in 2021 was Rush, a converted linebacker, putting together his best season so far as a Gopher.

The 6-3, 250-pounder had 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks among his 31 tackles. He teamed with Mafe and fellow defensive end Esezi Otomewo, a fifth-round pick by the Vikings, to combine for 22 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks on a unit that ranked third nationally in total defense (fewest yards allowed). With Mafe and Otomewo in NFL training camps this summer, Rush is expected to shoulder a larger burden for the Gophers this season. Defensive coordinator Joe Rossi sees the Marysville, Ohio, native continuing his development and becoming even more of an impact player. "He's continuing to play hard, he's continuing to be physical," Rossi said. "I've seen him start to make some gains rushing the passer. Last year, he did a really good job playing in the run game. He still had five, six sacks, but I've seen him grow there. It's a point of emphasis, and we need to continue to see him grow there." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

rSr/2023 OLB Thomas RushMinnesota
News Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

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