Former Michigan Tight end Ian Bunting announced in late January that he would leave the program as a grad transfer, seeking to use up his remaining year of college eligibility elsewhere. Bunting on Tuesday made it public that he will finish out his collegiate career on the west coast, at the University of California at Berkeley.
Join us in welcoming @BuntingIan to the #CalFamily18!
: https://t.co/FGmGt5yNdx pic.twitter.com/wdh1TzTimL
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) April 4, 2018
A former 4-star prospect from Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois, Bunting in 34 career games hauled in 11 passes for 124 yards. Many felt he was going to be the next staple tight end for Michigan after All-American Jake Butt. In fact, during the Wolverines’ Orange Bowl affair against Florida State at the end of the 2016 season, Bunting came in for Butt, who tore his ACL.
Bunting had the most productive game of his career, posting single-game high marks in catches (3) and receiving yards (40).
However, Bunting could never quite establish himself as a prime target at the tight end position. He was limited to just one catch in 2017 and fell deep down the depth chart. The bulk of the playing time at tight end was given to Sean McKeon and converted quarterback Zach Gentry, both of whom collected just over 300 yards receiving and combined for 48 receptions.
As far as the 2018 season goes, Bunting will join a Cal program that went just 5-7 a season ago. Head coach Justin Wilcox, now entering his second season with the Golden Bears, likes the proposition of having a veteran like Bunting:
“Ian has played college football at the highest level and on its biggest stages for the last three seasons, and he has the ability to make an impact on our football program immediately,” Wilcox said. “He is a versatile athlete that we expect to contribute to both our running and passing games with his blocking and pass-catching skills.”
Because Bunting (6-7, 252) left Michigan as a Grad Transfer, he will be able to play immediately for Cal. He was part of countless two-tight end sets for the Wolverines and figures to be utilized in similar fashion out in Berkeley. The Bears have three tight ends on their depth chart heading into 2018, all of whom combined for just 12 catches and 106 yards a year ago.
Oddly enough, Bunting is the second former Michigan player to leave as a grad transfer this offseason and opt to play at Cal in 2018. Wide receiver Maurice Ways announced his decision to transfer shortly after the Wolverines’ season finale loss to Ohio State in late November. Ways then just last month announced he would use his fifth and final year of playing eligibility at Cal and pursue a master’s degree there as well.