Ian Bunting, Ex-Wolverine

Tag: transfers

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).

21Jan 2018
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Casey Hughes, Wolverine

Casey Hughes (image via Zimbio)

Utah defensive back Casey Hughes has decided to transfer to Michigan as a graduate transfer for the 2018 season.

Hughes is 6’0″, 185 lbs. and started at cornerback for the Utes in 2017, when he made 35 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 pass breakup. He made 6 tackles and 1 forced fumble as a backup in 2015 and 2016 combined. He redshirted as a freshman in 2014. He has run 4.44 and 4.47 forties during his time at Utah.

As a high school recruit in the class of 2014, Hughes was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #126 cornerback, and #1595 overall. He had offers from Colorado, Nevada, Oregon State, UNLV, and Utah State, among others.

Hughes is known as a good tackler and tough player. He is expected to play nickel safety. There have been rumors since the season’s end that Michigan’s coaching staff was not happy with the safety position this past season, particularly in pass coverage. Hughes may be able to help with that as an obvious passing down substitution, and he could provide depth on the outside. However, he’s unlikely to become a starting corner since Michigan has two very good corners already in David Long and Lavert Hill.

21Aug 2017
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Keith Washington, Ex-Wolverine

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Keith Washington is transferring out of Michigan. I ranked Washington at #20 in the 2017 Season Countdown (LINK) and projected him as a starting cornerback after he looked like the best corner on the roster in the spring game.

Recent rumors suggested that David Long and Lavert Hill solidified themselves as the top corners, and Sam Webb intimated that Washington was no longer playing corner, presumably meaning that he had moved to safety. That makes sense for Michigan due to the low numbers at safety. But maybe it didn’t sit well with Washington, who would have been behind two sophomores at cornerback, a junior safety in Tyree Kinnel, and a sophomore safety in Josh Metellus. Maybe he simply didn’t see the path to playing time.

Washington was committed to Cal at one point, and Michigan flipped him out of Prattville (AL) Prattville. Remember that exciting pipeline to Prattville? Nobody is left. Washington is transferring, Dytarious Johnson didn’t qualify, Kingston Davis transferred to a JUCO in Kansas, and Cam Taylor – 2018 wide receiver who was offered – committed to Missouri this summer.

Not much of a pipeline after all.

27May 2015
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Thoughts on Countess and Hayes Transfers

It has been known for a while that running back Justice Hayes would transfer, although the destination was unknown; he’s now planning to play for Southern Miss. Blake Countess somewhat abruptly announced a transfer not long ago, and yesterday he told the world that he would be ending up at Auburn.

Countess is headed to Auburn, which has a depleted secondary that might become even more depleted in the coming weeks. Jonathon Mincy graduated and got a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons. Jonathan Jones, meanwhile, made 6 picks last season and despite suffering a minor injury this spring, he will be one of the Tigers’ starting corners this fall. On the other side, Joshua Holsey is a senior who started seven games last fall, making 41 tackles and 2 pass breakups. He will probably be Countess’s primary competition to start, since no other returning players saw much action. Otherwise, Auburn is bringing in several freshmen to compete, including 4-stars Carlton Davis and Javarius Davis. If Countess transferred for playing time reasons (which is partially rumored to be the case, since the coaching staff pursued Wayne Lyons), he’s going to have to compete against Holsey and some other talented athletes in the SEC.

In Hayes’s case, Southern Mississippi returns its top four running backs from last year. None of them was very accomplished, though. The leading back was then freshman Ito Smith (536 yards, 3.9 yards/carry, 2 touchdowns), while little used freshman Tez Parks and junior Jalen Richard averaged 5.6 and 5.9 yards/carry, respectively. Hayes enters a rather crowded backfield, but Conference USA is weaker competition, and Southern Miss typically survives with 3-star and 2-star recruits. Hayes has decent speed, and while his production was never anything special at Michigan, he should be able to get some playing time in that backfield. He also offers the flexibility to be able to move out into the slot and catch some passes, and he could help on kickoff returns, although the Golden Eagles return senior Michael Thomas, who averaged over 24 yards/return and took one to the house last year.

Neither player is walking into a situation where he will be guaranteed a starting gig, and he won’t necessarily be the most talented guy at his position, either. In recent years we have seen players like Josh Furman, Thomas Rawls, and Richard Ash leave Michigan only to flourish elsewhere immediately. It will be interesting to see whether Hayes and Countess continue that trend. Personally, I have always been high on Countess and I think he’s better than Holsey – but I also think he’s better than Wayne Lyons. Meanwhile, Hayes was uninspiring during his time at Michigan and struggles to run through contact, but he should bring a little speed to the Southern Miss backfield and get a fair chance to shine.

14May 2015
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Blake Countess, Ex-Wolverine

Blake Countess

Rising fifth-year senior cornerback Blake Countess has elected to play his final year of college ball elsewhere. The 5’10”, 185 lb. corner was expected to compete for a starting job this fall after having a disappointing 2014 season.

Coming out of Olney (MD) Good Counsel, Countess was a Rivals 4-star and the #133 player nationally in the 2011 class. I gave him a TTB Rating of 84 (LINK) and was pleased with his commitment (LINK), which took place shortly before Rich Rodriguez was fired. I thought he would be Michigan’s next good corner after Donovan Warren departed in 2009.

Countess played immediately as a freshman in 2011 and started six games that year, finishing with 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 6 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. ESPN and the Big Ten Network included him on their conference all-freshman teams. Entering the 2012 season as a starter, Countess got injured playing special teams in the season opener against Alabama and missed the rest of the year with a torn ACL. He came back with a vengeance in 2013, making First Team All-Big Ten with 46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown), and 4 pass breakups. Big things were expected, but his production fell off (24 tackles, 3 pass breakups) and he saw diminished playing time in 2014.

Rumors started to pop up about Countess potentially transferring around the same time Wayne Lyons appeared headed to Michigan. Essentially, the defensive backfield was getting crowded with talented and/or veteran players – Countess, Lyons, junior Jourdan Lewis, sophomore Jabrill Peppers, and senior Jarrod Wilson are all starting-caliber players, and a couple other guys are pushing for playing time. Countess is not a physical corner, and new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin’s preferred style of defense did not seem primed to mesh with Countess’s. Even so, Countess would have seen plenty of playing time even if he didn’t start.

But a 4-star guy in his fifth year – a guy who had 6 picks in one season a couple years ago – should probably be starting somewhere. A player of his caliber has an eye on the NFL, and the NFL doesn’t draft many college backups. It’s somewhat understandable that Countess would look to transfer to a more amenable situation.

Unfortunately, this transfer comes at the expense of Michigan’s quality depth. There’s likely no question that the two front-runners for the cornerback jobs are Lewis and Lyons, but the only experienced backup is junior Channing Stribling, who has yet to make a significant play despite a fair amount of time on the field. The position is supplemented by redshirt junior Terry Richardson, redshirt sophomore Ross Taylor-Douglas, redshirt sophomore Reon Dawson, and redshirt freshman Brandon Watson, none of whom have registered a single stat. Furthermore, the lone cornerback in the 2015 class is lanky project Keith Washington. There appears to be a serious deficit in cornerback talent when you get younger than Lewis, although Watson has some potential.

Five years later, linebacker Desmond Morgan is the only player remaining from the 2011 class, which was the Rodriguez-to-Hoke transition year. Attrition can be expected from classes with that kind of instability, but too many players played early and exhausted their eligibility this past season.

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