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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Bunting scraps top 3 after UM, OSU offers

By Jared Shanker

With a top three set a few weeks ago, Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) was setting up visits to his top three in hopes of closing in on a decision.

Those plans stalled when two of the Midwest’s premier programs offered the 2014 tight end, with Michigan being the most recent.

“It’s definitely a big one for me and definitely a school I’m going to take a lot of time researching and hopefully visiting and talking to some of the students,” Bunting said. “I know a few people that go there. I’ll be talking with them in the coming weeks and months and we’ll see where that gets me.”

Michigan tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno was one of the first coaches to visit Bunting’s school during the contact period a few months ago. He spoke with Ferrigno on Sunday, and Bunting was told the staff was going to re-rank the tight ends board that night and would likely offer the following day.

Bunting’s athleticism and frame (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) moved him far enough up Michigan’s board for Ferrigno to come back Monday with an offer.

During the fall, Bunting visited Michigan for its game against Northwestern.

“That stadium is pretty incredible, but it’s all about the people though,” Bunting said. The fans there, they got some great fans, die-hard fans and a lot of people with generations of family members going to Michigan. It’s definitely one of the better fan bases in the country.

“... The coaches are cool guys and have all seen success. That definitely catches my eye.”

A top three emerged for Bunting a little more than two weeks ago when Notre Dame offered the fast-rising junior. He is scheduled to make a visit to the South Bend, Ind., campus on April 13. Before that he's scheduled to visit Oregon (April 6). Vanderbilt is also in Bunting’s top group. Ohio State offered a few days later, however, forcing him to erase his leaderboard before the ink even dried.

“I decided that it was maybe too early to come up with a true top three because I haven’t visited a lot of these schools,” he said. “The ones I visited were just for games and it’s kind of a quick, superficial and not an in-depth visit. I’m still very interested in those schools from the beginning, but I got a lot of learning to do and research to do.”

This Saturday, Bunting will check out Wisconsin with teammate Brian Allen. Allen already has a Wisconsin offer, and Bunting is hoping to join him with a scholarship offer of his own this weekend. If it does not come, Bunting will not harbor any hard feelings toward new coach Gary Andersen.

“I talked to Coach Andersen last week and he said they’re definitely very interested in me as a player and person and they want to do some research and watch more film,” Bunting said. “They’re a new staff so it might take them a little longer to make a decision, but that’s all right. I respect that.”

This past weekend, Bunting went to Northwestern for an overnight visit. He spent much of his time with freshmen Eric Olsen and Mike McHugh. On Saturday, he sat in on meetings with coach Bob Heffner, who coaches the superbacks, a hybrid tight end position.

“It was really cool and definitely a good meeting room,” Bunting said. “I watched practice after that. I really liked it. It’s not uptight. And obviously Coach [Pat] Fitzgerald is a great guy.”