Thursday, April 4, 2013
USC tenders offer to Midwest tight end
By Blair Angulo
USC signed one player from the Midwest in the 2013 recruiting cycle, four-star running back Ty Isaac of Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy, and the Trojans appear to be looking for more this year.
A handful of offers have been extended to Midwest prospects in the last week, including tight end Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central).
The 6-foot-6 prospect got the offer on Wednesday from new assistant coach Mike Ekeler, a former coach at Indiana and Nebraska who is plenty familiar with the area.
“I’m definitely excited about it. USC is a school that I’m very interested in,” Bunting said. “I wasn’t really expecting it when it happened, but I’m happy they decided to pull the trigger. Hopefully I’ll be able to get out there and check it out soon.”
The timing of the offer is convenient. A few days ago, Bunting’s mother invited him to accompany her on a business trip to Los Angeles. Now he has a reason to tag along.
“It’s funny,” Bunting said. “She asked me if I wanted to check out schools in L.A., like USC and UCLA. I’ll probably fly there on April 18, visit USC the next day before taking a trip to Michigan on April 20.”
Bunting and USC had been in steady contact for a few months, Bunting said, but dialogue picked up when Ekeler was hired in February. He knows the Trojans didn’t sign a tight end in the 2013 class, a fact coach Lane Kiffin has emphasized.
“That is definitely something that would interest me,” Bunting said. “It’s a great opportunity. Coach Kiffin has been telling me about the situation they have there, so it’d be a great opportunity to get early playing time. That early playing time, if I were to go there, would set me up for early success and hopefully catapult me to where I want to be.
"They have a rich tradition of tight ends. It’s a great school, too, and that’s another thing that’s important to me -- the academic side of things. At some point football does end for everyone. Hopefully that will be after a long, successful NFL career with a few Super Bowl rings, but that’s not the case for everyone, so you’ve got to have something to fall back on.”
USC has offered three other tight ends in the 2014 class: Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) and Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada). Bunting also has offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Oregon, among others.
“USC is definitely one of the schools I’m more interested in,” Bunting said. “It has a great history and notorious for having some pretty good tight ends. It would potentially be a great place for me to play. … But I try to make sure I get a good feel for the coaches and hang around them a lot, ask them as many questions I can about the school itself and the offense and how they see me fitting in there. It’s helpful if I get a chance to talk to the players – coaches can tell you whatever they want, but the players are in the position I would potentially be in. It’s nice to hear from them directly. I would have to check it out and see if it’s a place I want to spend the next four years of my life.”
Bunting attended a lot of camps last summer, so he plans to limit his participation to a select few. He mostly wants to work out individually, build up strength and get his high school team in a position to make a run at a state championship.
“I’m planning on committing before my senior season if I can,” Bunting said. “It’s not really my style to make an announcement and make a big deal of things. That’s what I’m shooting for, at least.”