2016 Season Countdown: #40 Ian Bunting

2016 Season Countdown: #40 Ian Bunting


August 2, 2016
Ian Bunting 180x

Ian Bunting (image via MLive)




Name: Ian Bunting
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 252 lbs.
High school: Hinsdale (IL) Central
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #89
Last year: I ranked Bunting #62 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He played in nine games and made 5 catches for 72 yards (14.4 yards/catch).

Michigan used a variety of tight ends, including some position-switchers, in 2015. Bunting was the guy who seems to exist every year, a guy who’s a wide receiver with questionable blocking ability that needs to bulk up. At 6’7″ and 243 lbs., we all knew he was too light to be a major contributor. He was last year’s Zach Gentry. That didn’t stop Bunting from playing some and showing himself as a very possible replacement for Jake Butt down the road. He averaged a respectable 14.4 yards/catch, including some nice catch-and-runs against Oregon State and Florida.

Blocking tight end A.J. Williams graduated, but Bunting isn’t the guy to replace him. That will probably be Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. Instead, Bunting has one more year to play the apprentice role behind the possible All-American in Butt. I would normally put the backup to a star tight end a little bit higher, but Michigan has so much competition at the position that I can’t convince myself to put him higher than #40. I don’t see a big reason for his number of targets to increase significantly, but adding 9 lbs. since last season improves his viability. I see him catching around 10 balls with a slight uptick in snaps.

Prediction: Backup tight end; 10 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD

12 comments

  1. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 263
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Aug 02, 2016 at 10:01 PM

    Will be interesting to see how TE shakes out. Bunting to me looks ready to jump on an all-B1G track and is more than viable as a major contributor. Background as a wide receiver aside, he may already be a better blocker than Butt. I remember his HS film being impressive in the way that he attacked DB’s and LB’s in his blocking. Wheatley certainly got a lot of hype this off season, but he’ll have to be the real deal to beat out Bunting for that #2 TE spot. Love the talent at this position. Agree that a lot of TE’s will play. I do hope all of this TE depth translates into reducing Poggi’s snaps a bit.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 33
      Joined: 8/21/2015
      AA7596
      Aug 02, 2016 at 11:42 PM

      Yeah, I like Bunting, but Wheatley seems the more plausible breakout candidate for the reason Thunder mentioned. TJ absolutely will have a role as a blocker—and it’s just a matter of time before U-M then plays against that tendency and targets Wheatley in the passing game.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 03, 2016 at 2:08 PM

      Ha. Sounds like Poggi is the leader for the annual unsexy-reliable-guy-who-fans-think-should-play-less role. The Smith-Williams-Bolden award goes to….

      a) Matt Godin
      b) Henry Poggi
      c) Grant Perry

      Tune in this Fall to see who wins!

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3849
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Aug 03, 2016 at 4:27 PM

        I think that’s almost an accurate way to look at it, though. Smith, Williams, and Bolden aren’t/weren’t very good. A good/great team would have better options, or at least guys who could challenge them. We’ve had a mediocre four-year run, and part of that is because guys like Williams and Bolden don’t factor in so heavily for the perennially elite teams.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 03, 2016 at 4:58 PM

          Perhaps, but I suspect there will always be role player that fans complain about. I don’t know how good Poggi will be but the staff seems to want a thumping blocker, presumably to execute their scheme effectively. I don’t know if Godin is going to get a single sack this year, but he was splitting snaps with Wormley last year and getting more snaps than Charlton or Hurst until he got hurt. I suspect Mattison and Durkin knew what they were doing there. Williams may indeed have been a default option but people spent 3 years bitching about Hoke using him and then Harbaugh went and did the exact same thing – if anything he used Williams more, while the hot-shit kids everyone wanted to see sat.

          I don’t think this will change, even if the team wins a national title.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3849
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Aug 03, 2016 at 5:03 PM

            Legitimate question: Who on Michigan’s 1997 national title team played too much?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 04, 2016 at 3:16 PM

            I assume you mean beyond starting a walk-on over the greatest QB to ever play in the NFL?

            There’s a lot of candidates I think, though it’s obscured now by the glory of past accomplishment. If there was an Mgoblog post from the 97 Iowa game I think you’d see a handful of guys getting called out. But let me touch on some personnel decisions that would get questioned today:

            Any of the RBs. This was a 4-headed monster with roles for each guy, but none of them were hitting 5 ypc. I think people would have been griping for one guy or another to get more carries. Anthony Thomas was viewed as the hot young star but he was at 4.1ypc on the year and his game was unrefined. Howard and Williams had their strengths but were mostly just guys. This would have been debated all year. Back then, nobody was questioning anyone’s vision even though everyone on the OL was headed to the NFL.

            WR. Russel Shaw (just a guy) started opposite Streets and M rarely threw to it’s WR in general. I think you could make a pretty strong case that give the depth at CB (Weathers, Taylor, Peterson, Patterson, Whitley) there would have been better talent distribution if Woodson had played more WR (or even moved to safety). If no Woodson, then Knight was a younger and more talented version of Shaw.

            LB. Copenhaver was a proven vet but he was also unexceptional. Gold and Jones got time, but you can probably argue they should have taken a lot more snaps from Copenhaver than they did.

            NT. Renes was a plugger who did his job (eating blocks) very well, but he didn’t get much recognition and I think Feazell was viewed as a more talented playmaker.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 04, 2016 at 3:18 PM

            I’m not saying anyone played too much or too little – I’m saying there would have been guys fans griped about. Back then your OL and DL were far more anonymous than today and things just weren’t scrutinized the same way. No one looked at weight gain from spring to fall for example, or cared who had what number, or what font was on the jerseys. But that team had role players and guys who just did their jobs without any stats or highlights to validate their contributions.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Aug 03, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    I’m liking Bunting for more than 10 catches as well. As I’ve said before, I’m not convinced we get Chesson back as soon as anybody would like. I think Bunting will force his way onto the field regardless, but absent a fully recovered Chesson, I can see multiple TE, H Back types running in and out of there even more frequently than might be the case otherwise. In addition, early in the year I think there will be some leads that will enable the staff to target Bunting specifically. I think Bunting breaks out this year.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 03, 2016 at 4:50 PM

      You might be right, but there are more and more viable options at TE this year. Last year it was Butt and Williams, and then everybody else was young/inexperienced. Now everybody returns a year older, except the mediocre Williams; and there are three solid freshmen coming in. Williams caught 12 passes last year as the #2 tight end, so I don’t know how many catches there will be for the #3 guy when you also have Hill, Asiasi, Gentry, etc.

      • Painter Smurf
        Comments: 263
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        Painter Smurf
        Aug 03, 2016 at 10:34 PM

        Pretty confident Bunting will get more targets than AJW did last year, even if the Wheatley hype is legit. He will be useful because they can motion and flex him all over the place, but still line him up in-line. We’ll see though.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 03, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    This is how a position is supposed to look. An all-american caliber senior, backed by a rising RS So who looks ready to take over next year and can probably fill in if injury strikes.

    But….with Butt, Wheatley, Assiasi, Poggi, Hill all on the roster it seems like Bunting is most likely still a year away.

    But maybe Thunder is right and we’ll see Bunting and Butt on the field at the same time. If so I think this rank is about right. If not, I’d bump him down a few spots just because there are other potential Butt-replacements on the roster.

    I think Bunting will end up with 3 or 4 TDs because Michigan will use more backups this year and backup QBs tend to like safe throws to TEs. I could also see him in on some goalline plays

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