Name: Ian Bunting
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