Ian Bunting figures it will be “really strange” to see best-buddy Brian Allen wearing Michigan State’s green and white colors the next few years while Ian is in Michigan’s blue and gold.
That’s the way the ball bounces in college football.
Until then, they’ll be dressed in the red and white colors of Hinsdale Central, which starts its season Friday night with a home game against Bolingbrook.
Two-way linemen Bunting and Allen are among the reasons coach Rich Tarka’s Red Devils are rated among the state’s top teams this year.
“I like our chances,” Bunting said. “We have some good players coming back.”
It was a foregone conclusion that Allen, who played for Central at 6-2, 275 pounds and went unbeaten on the way to a state wrestling title, would follow older brother Jack to Michigan State, where Jack is the starting center.
Bunting meticulously weighed his college options before settling on Michigan.
Bunting and Allen spent the summer working out and tooling around the area on Allen’s moped when they weren’t in two 7-on-7 football camps, including Nike’s prestigious “The Opener” program, an invitation-only camp in Oregon for 150 of the nation’s leading prospects.
“I think I proved that I deserved to be there,” said the 6-6 Bunting, who bulked from last season’s 185 pounds to 224. “I improved on my route-running and catches, and got a lot of feedback from guys who are going to Michigan.”
The tight end chose Michigan over Notre Dame and other Division-I programs for its family atmosphere. He liked the meeting rooms and the fact that a lot of functions are held for the wives and kids in Michigan’s huge stadium affectionately called the Big House.
Michigan encouraged him to continue playing basketball at Central, where he and 6-7 junior Matt Rafferty will make a formidable front-court duo.
“I’m really excited for my senior year in high school and hopefully win football in state with the kids I’ve grown up with,” Bunting said.
Central was 7-3 last season. Gone are quarterback Brian Owens, running back Jack Adams, linebacker Randy Pyle and linemen Nick Piker and Ralph Nelson among others. In their places are quarterback/punter/place kicker Chase Hamilton, linebacker Jacob White, the running back tandem of Ben Stefani and Juwan Edmond, and the pass-receiving combination of Alec Edstrom and Ryan Doney.