Tight end Ian Bunting, who just finished his redshirt junior season, announced that he intends to transfer for his fifth and final season of college football.
Bunting committed to Michigan in April of 2013 as a part of the 2014 recruiting class (LINK). I gave him a final TTB Rating of 75 (LINK). After redshirting initially, he caught 5 passes for 72 yards in 2015. He followed that up with 5 receptions for 46 yards in 2016 and 1 catch for 6 yards in 2017. Altogether, he totaled 11 catches for 124 yards during his time in Ann Arbor.
Following a year behind Jake Butt, he was always expected to take some time to get a featured spot. He also played a lot of wide receiver in high school, which probably slowed his development a bit. Regardless, I predicted in the off-season that he would have a breakout season this year and lead Michigan’s tight ends in production. Obviously, that never materialized. After a career-best game in the Orange Bowl against Florida State (3 catches, 40 yards), he fell off the map to the point where he was behind several younger guys.
Bunting’s departure had been expected for a while, and I had heard this would happen during the end of the fall semester. Redshirt sophomore Zach Gentry and true sophomore Sean McKeon had moved past him as receiving targets, and redshirt sophomore Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. was used in a blocking role. I am a bit puzzled at the playing time allotted, because I think Bunting is a superior player to Wheatley at the least. For whatever reason, it seemed like Bunting found himself in the doghouse a little bit. It may (or may not) be a coincidence that his place on the depth chart changed for the worse when Jay Harbaugh moved to coaching the running backs, while a new face in Greg Frey came in to coach the tight ends.
Michigan now goes into 2018 with Zach Gentry (RS Jr.), Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. (RS Jr.), Sean McKeon (Jr.), Nick Eubanks (RS So.), Mustapha Muhammad (Fr.), and Luke Schoonmaker (Fr.) on the roster. Here’s a look at the roster numbers for 2018 (LINK).