Ian Bunting, Ex-Wolverine

Tag: attrition

30Jan 2018
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Ian Bunting, Ex-Wolverine

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).

31Dec 2017
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Ja’Raymond Hall, Ex-Wolverine

Ja’Raymond Hall (image via 247 Sports)

Freshman offensive lineman Ja’Raymond Hall has elected to transfer. A graduate of Oak Park (MI) Oak Park, he enrolled early but did not play at all during this season. He will have to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and he will be a redshirt sophomore when he’s finally eligible to play in a college game in 2019.

Hall was an early addition to the 2017 class, committing in December of 2015. I gave him a final TTB Rating of 77. As an offensive tackle/offensive guard tweener, I thought he was a solid developmental piece, but there are other guys in the class ahead of him and in his class who have higher potential. I also thought Hall lost a little of his athleticism as he added weight during his senior year, and obviously tackles are at a higher premium than guards. This does hurt overall depth on the offensive line, however, a position that Michigan has struggled to recruit as effectively as I expected under Jim Harbaugh.

Hall is the first member of the 30-man class of 2017 to depart. Here’s a look at Michigan’s 2018 scholarship chart with Hall removed (LINK).

29Nov 2017
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Maurice Ways, Ex-Wolverine

Maurice Ways, Jr.

Redshirt junior Maurice Ways, Jr. announced on Wednesday that he would be seeking a fifth year elsewhere. As a graduate transfer player, he should be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Ways graduated from Detroit (MI) Country Day and caught his passes from quarterback Tyler Wiegers, who has gone on to play for Iowa. Ways initially wanted to concentrate on basketball in high school, but his average height (6’3″) led him to pursuing college opportunities on the gridiron. I gave him a final TTB Rating of 81, because I saw him as a player who would eventually be that big, pro-style receiver that Michigan fans got used to seeing in the 1990s and early 2000s. Unfortunately, he continued to be a little raw – perhaps going back to that early concentration on basketball – and struggled occasionally with drops.

Ways appeared to be on the right track in 2015 when he caught 3 passes for 40 yards as a redshirt freshman, and he followed that up with a spring in which he was thought to be headed toward more playing time. Then he suffered a foot injury, which caused him to miss time, and he never really recovered that momentum that he had seen going into 2016. He ended his Michigan career with 6 catches for 47 yards.

The Wolverines have a bunch of receivers who have passed Ways for playing time, including Kekoa Crawford, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Grant Perry. Ways is a good blocker and reportedly an excellent human being who was involved in a lot of volunteer and leadership activities on campus. He’s a good team and locker room guy, so hopefully he can find a place where he can be a little more successful on the field, too.

29Nov 2017
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Alex Malzone, Ex-Wolverine

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Malzone announced that he would be transferring after he graduates this year. Malzone enrolled in January of 2015 and earned a start in his initial spring game. However, he never stepped on the field across three seasons. The closest he got was last weekend, when starter Wilton Speight and backup Brandon Peters were injured. Malzone was the #2 guy behind John O’Korn against Ohio State, but he wasn’t needed.

I said the following about Malzone during his recruitment:

Malzone runs a somewhat multiple offense and has experience dropping back, from shotgun, or from the pistol formation. He has a slight build and is a little short at a listed 6’2″. He runs his offense very well, is a good ball handler, and seems to be in command. He’s a good athlete who can get on the edge a little bit and make some things happen with his feet, but he’s not a blazer. Malzone gets the ball out on time and shows good accuracy and touch. His throws on skinny posts appear to be right on the money, but I question whether he has the arm strength to squeeze those in there against faster and longer defenders. He has a little bit of a hitch in his throwing motion where he brings the ball down to throw it, not totally unlike a right-handed version of Tim Tebow. Michigan’s coaching staff has been somewhat erratic with the quarterbacks they’ve recruited (the 6’3″ sorta dual-threat Russell Bellomy, the 6’3″ Shane Morris with a rocket arm, the 6’6″ Wilton Speight), but I look at Malzone and see him being too short and lacking the arm strength that Michigan likely wants.

I ended up giving Malzone a TTB Rating of 73 when he committed in the transition year between Brady Hoke and Jim Harbaugh, but with the other guys on the roster, it seemed unlikely that he would ever make an impact. He was passed up by literally every other scholarship quarterback on the roster, except classmate Zach Gentry, who moved to tight end.

This won’t affect Michigan next year, even though Speight is also transferring and O’Korn is graduating. Brandon Peters will go into 2018 as the expected starter, while Dylan McCaffrey has also earned high praise from the coaching staff. With two freshmen coming in the 2018 class, the Wolverines will have four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster – and the staff may pursue transfers at the position, too.

28Nov 2017
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Drake Harris, Ex-Wolverine . . . again

Drake Harris

Redshirt junior wide receiver Drake Harris is transferring for his fifth year of football. It was reported earlier in the year that Harris left the football program and was going to join the basketball team, but then Tarik Black got hurt and Harris never made any appearances with the basketball program.

He ended up returning to the football team and played in four games, making 1 catch for 10 yards against Ohio State. In total, he made 9 receptions for 60 yards in four seasons in Ann Arbor. He was hampered early in his career (and toward the tail end of his high school career) by hamstring issues, though that problem seems to have cleared up in the past two years.

Harris was a 4-star, the #7 wide receiver, and #68 overall in the class of 2014, according to the 247 Composite. In that respect, he’s one of the more disappointing recruits Michigan has landed in recent years. For the #68 player to only make 9 catches over a full career – and to be passed by numerous lower-rated players – that’s quite a letdown. Particularly this season when Michigan was low on experienced receivers, Harris had a prime opportunity to play but got stuck behind Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Kekoa Crawford, and others.

This hurts Michigan very little for 2018 and opens up a scholarship for another player. Harris has struggled to get on the field in the past, and there’s no reason to think he would become an important cog next season.

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