Illinois became the second Big Ten football team to offer a scholarship to Hinsdale Central junior wide receiver Ian Bunting Saturday during a visit to Champaign.
The news was broken by Doug Bucshon (@IllinoisRivals) via Twitter.
Bunting received the offer from coach Tim Beckman while in Champaign to watch the No. 7 men’s basketball team’s 74-55 victory over No. 11 Ohio State. Bunting made the trip with his father, Stephen, and a friend.
“I have visited before with coach Beckman a few times,” said Bunting via phone from Champaign. “It feels good to get an offer.”
Illinois joins Purdue among the Big Ten schools to offer Bunting, who will be unable to sign a letter of intent until February 2014. The only other school to offer Bunting is Vanderbilt. Here is Bunting’s recruiting profile at rivals.yahoo.com.
Bunting said he did not meet Saturday with former Hinsdale Central standout Scott McDowell, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at Illinois. McDowell is the only former Devils player on Illinois’ roster. McDowell is the older brother of Hinsdale Central senior volleyball player Meghan McDowell, who signed with Virginia in November.
Bunting, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound reserve forward for Hinsdale Central’s basketball team, doesn’t play again until the Devils host Oswego East at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
While players from the Class of 2013 are making official visits this month, Bunting has decided to jump into the recruiting process in his junior year with no timetable to make a verbal commitment.
“I plan to go visit a lot of schools and see which schools I like best,” Bunting said. “I want to take it all in.”
Bunting said his next visit is likely Indiana later this month. Bunting is not alone among Class of 2014 players already making visits. He has traveled to some schools with football teammate Brian Allen, who is the top-rated heavyweight in Class 4A in the state this wrestling season. Another junior Bunting has run into on the recruiting trail has been 6-4, 280-pound offensive lineman Nick Allegretti from Class 7A state-runnerup Lincoln-Way East.
Recruiting visits for junior football players appears to be a growing trend although juniors from other sports are making early verbal commitments. Last month, Lyons junior tennis player Alex Chatt committed to Northwestern and even Meghan McDowell committed to Virginia as a junior.
“The whole process is starting earlier and earlier,” Bunting said. “You run into good amount of juniors that are going through the same thing. Some have 15 offers already.”
Bunting’s 2012 season was cut short by an ankle injury Sept. 21 against Lyons. He finished with 16 catches for 412 yards and four TDs in his first varsity season. He was named Season Pass Athlete of the Week after catching seven passes for 213 yards and two TDs against Proviso West Sept. 7.