Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #62 Ian Bunting

Ian Bunting
I just want to apologize for the somewhat inconsistent posting for the past few days. Normally I like to put up at least two posts per day (6:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.), but my schedule has been thrown off a bit and I sometimes don't have a chance to write until later in the morning. Also, this week's recruiting updates will be posted on Wednesday and/or Thursday. Thanks for reading!

Name: Ian Bunting
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 243 lbs.
High school: Hinsdale (IL) Central
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #94
Last year: I ranked Bunting #57 and said he would be a backup tight end. He redshirted.

Bunting was very thin last year (and even this spring) which partially prevented him from seeing the field. I thought he might see the field with Jake Butt coming off of a torn ACL and no other proven tight ends, but the coaches stuck with A.J. Williams, Keith Heitzman, and Khalid Hill until Butt returned. It was not a very productive group, but it also was not a very productive team overall. In the meantime, Hill emerged a little bit before suffering his own ACL injury. Bunting was able to redshirt, and he has added 13 lbs. to his frame since last year.

Bunting is still a little bit thin, and this spring it did not seem that he would be heavily relied upon. Despite his considerable size and athleticism, he was not terribly productive in high school and played wide receiver up through his junior year. Still, Williams is not a receiving threat, Heitzman is gone, and Hill is still recovering. Butt is a good option, and the coaches have also moved linebacker Chase Winovich and defensive end Henry Poggi to tight end. I think Bunting has a decent shot at being a receiving threat, but with the glut of tight ends and his lack of experience, he is not extremely valuable to this team. I am looking forward to seeing what Jim Harbaugh can do with a player like Bunting in the long run, though.

Prediction: Backup tight end


  1. Ian Bunting redshirting is one of the very few things that went right for this team last year.

    Our TEs are one of my hopes for a significantly better year, especially with an accurate, check down type at QB. That's assuming of course that Ruduck wins the job. I'm enthusiastic about all of them at this position, but especially this kid, Poggi and Butt, not necessarily in that order.

    1. What makes you excited about Poggi as a TE?

  2. I agree with this preview. Bunting is intriguing but have to keep expectations in check for 2015 with all the other TEs.

    I would just add that with the lack of proven playmaking WRs, perhaps there's an opportunity for Bunting to sneak into a more significant pass-catching role than your typical backup TE. More like freshman-year Funchess than Jake Butt.

  3. I wonder if he will be used outside at all if our normal Wr options continue to be very uninspiring.

  4. I don't think he's going to work himself into a starting TE role, but you have to look at the pieces. I imagine Harbaugh using 2, and even 3 TE sets at 20% of the time. I think he will have a bit of rotation in.

    Now with that said, I also think he's going to surprise a few people this year. I know he wasn't heavily leaned upon in the spring game, but I think he'll have a unique roll this year. 6'7" endzone target? Yes please. 6'7" endzone target on one side with 6'6" endzone target on the other? Yes please.

  5. Really like Bunting's potential. Good receiving skills, huge frame, and a bit of a nasty edge. Despite playing WR in HS, I predict Bunting winds up being a pretty good blocker. Question will be whether he can maintain his speed as he continues to pack on weight.

    I know there is depth, but I just can't see AJW getting a ton of snaps this year. Despite the fact that he is not a particularly good blocker, defenses completely ignored him in the passing game last year and you can't waste the TE spot like that. I guess I could see the playing time being divvied up a few different ways, but I'm hoping to see a healthy dose of Bunting this season. Butt can always go pro after '15.

    1. IF Williams get benched this year, I would consider it another piece of evidence that Hoke/Borges didn't know what the F they were doing. From the fan perspective, it was not clear why Williams got so many snaps, but you had to just "trust the coaches" because it happened year after year.

      FWIW, I think Williams will start in 2TE sets, as he's done the last 3 years.