Ex-Wolverine Updates: 2018 Pre-Season

Tag: Ian Bunting


22Jun 2018
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Ex-Wolverine Updates: 2018 Pre-Season

Vic Viramontes is going to row the boat…at Riverside City College (image via Twin Cities)

TRANSFERS

Devin Asiasi, TE (UCLA): Asiasi sat out the season due to NCAA transfer rules. From what I can gather, he’s pegged to be the #2 tight end this season.

Ian Bunting, TE (California): Bunting will be a fifth year senior at Cal this fall.

Brian Cole, S (Mississippi State): Cole is listed as a 6’2″, 210 lb. redshirt junior safety at Mississippi State and is projected to be the Bulldogs’ starting nickel player. He spent last season at East Mississippi Community College.

Kekoa Crawford, WR: Crawford will transfer, though his destination is unknown.

Kingston Davis, RB (UAB): Davis is a 6’0″, 245 lb. running back at UAB after spending last season at Independence Community College in Kansas. He looks to be one of the featured players on the upcoming season of Last Chance U on Netflix.

Ja’Raymond Hall, OG (Central Michigan): Hall announced that he would transfer to Central Michigan in the off-season, which means he will have to sit out 2018 due to NCAA transfer rules.

Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB: It’s unknown at this point whether Mbem-Bosse will continue his football career.

Kareem Walker, RB: Walker will transfer, though his destination is unknown.

Keith Washington, CB (West Virginia): Washington, who played this past season at Co-Lin, has transferred to West Virginia, where he’s listed as a 6’0″, 173 lb. redshirt junior cornerback.

Maurice Ways, WR (California): Ways will be a fifth year senior at Cal this fall.

Hit the jump for news on former commitments and coaches.

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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).

7Dec 2017
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Who might not return on offense in 2018?

Ian Bunting (image via Land of 10)

As I looked at the scholarship count for 2018 (LINK), there were a number of names that stuck out of guys who don’t have a clear path to playing time. This post is intended to examine some of those players’ potential to contribute in the future. This is NOT based on any rumors, but simply logic.

QUARTERBACK: With just four players on scholarship for 2018 – including two true freshmen – it wouldn’t make much sense for anyone to leave. Brandon Peters (RS So.) should be the #1 guy, and Dylan McCaffrey (RS Fr.) would presumably be the primary backup. Both of them were recruited by Jim Harbaugh, and both of them are talented, 4-star guys. The one guy who could throw a wrench into those plans is Shea Patterson, a potential transfer from Ole Miss (LINK).

FULLBACK: Michigan loses its top two guys at fullback, but the next guy will be just a sophomore in 2018, and that’s Ben Mason. With Mason looking like the clear front-runner to start, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Jared Wangler (RS Sr.) to return in 2018. Not only was Wangler a linebacker for his first few years on campus, but he was at least fourth on the depth chart this season. There are walk-ons who could surpass him, and so far Michigan hasn’t deployed a fullback as light as him (229 lbs.) under Jim Harbaugh

RUNNING BACK: Departures happen all the time, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone leaves in the next year or two. However, the running backs are spaced out pretty well, from senior Karan Higdon to junior Chris Evans to redshirt sophomore Kareem Walker to the freshmen.

WIDE RECEIVER: Drake Harris and Maurice Ways, Jr. have already chosen to depart, so that thins the ranks a little bit, but Michigan brought in four wideouts in the 2017 class. With a lot of trust being put in Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, there seemed to be less and less emphasis on Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom this year than expected. Neither one redshirted and both could go elsewhere to have two years of eligibility left. Much like the Shea Patterson situation, the potential arrival of Ole Miss’s Van Jefferson could be disruptive to their careers, too.

TIGHT END: The departure that makes the most sense is Ian Bunting (RS Sr.). I thought Bunting was going to replace Jake Butt pretty well, but instead, Bunting was passed up by every other scholarship tight end on the roster, all of whom are younger. Zach Gentry (RS Jr.), Sean McKeon (Jr.), Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. (RS Jr.), and even Nick Eubanks (RS So.) were used earlier in the season and/or games than Bunting. Bunting had just 1 catch for 6 yards on the season. Along the same lines, Wheatley is getting older and seems to have two guys ahead of him (Gentry and McKeon).

OFFENSIVE LINE: With the uncertainty on the offensive line and two seniors graduating (Mason Cole, Patrick Kugler), there are two starting spots available, and Michigan likes to use six or seven linemen a game for random formations and short yardage stuff.

20Nov 2017
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Michigan vs. Wisconsin Awards

Karan Higdon (image via Saturday Tradition)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Karan Higdon. Higdon had 7 carries for 20 yards on Saturday, and he played second fiddle to Chris Evans while nursing an ankle injury. If Michigan has any chance to beat Ohio State, it has to have a healthy Higdon. Higdon is the team’s leading rusher this season (136 carries, 874 yards, 6.43 yards/carry, 10 TDs).

Hit the jump for the rest of the awards.

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17Aug 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #15 Ian Bunting

Ian Bunting (image via Gannett)

Name: Ian Bunting
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 252 lbs.
High school: Hinsdale (IL) Central
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #89
Last year: I ranked Bunting #40 and said he would be a backup tight end with 10 catches for 120 yards and 1 TD. He caught 5 passes for 46 yards.
TTB Rating: 75

Entering the 2016 season, the starting tight end position was solidified with senior Jake Butt, who would go on to win the Mackey Award. Bunting was never going to be more than a backup, and with a bunch of young options, his value as an alternate option waned a little bit, too. Michigan had Devin Asiasi, Tyrone Wheatley, Jr., and others to help out, and they did. The vast majority of tight end targets went to Butt (46 catches), and Bunting notched the second-most catches with 5 total; four other backups totaled 7 receptions. Bunting was relatively forgotten until Butt tore his ACL in the bowl game, and suddenly there was this unknown, athletic, 6’7″ kid catching 3 passes for 40 yards.

The heir apparent is Bunting. Athletically, he’s the most similar to Butt, and he even has the so-so blocking skills to seal the comparison. It doesn’t hurt that Asiasi transferred to UCLA in the off-season, further clearing a path to the starting gig. From a talent standpoint, I think Bunting is capable of matching Butt’s production, but I don’t believe the depth chart and play calling will allow it. I expect to see a few more wide receivers on the field, and I don’t believe the top three 2017 pass-catchers will get as large of a percentage as the 2016 triumvirate (Butt, Jehu Chesson, and Amara Darboh). This should be a solid year for Bunting, but not a huge breakout star.

Prediction: 35 catches, 425 yards, 4 touchdowns

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