Bunting was amazed by Prater's skill set, and he likened the USC-bound receiver to himself because of their similar body-types and playing styles. Things didn't work out for Prater in Los Angeles, so he returned to a nearby school, Northwestern.
Bunting relived his eighth grade memories Saturday night at Ryan Field, with Prater playing his second game for the Wildcats against Vanderbilt. Just like three years ago, Bunting was impressed by Prater's game.
"He's close to where I'm from, so it was cool to see him playing there again," Bunting said of his visit to campus Saturday. "I really like the way he plays."
At 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, Bunting says many coaches project him as a tight end at the next level, but he prefers wide receiver. Height gives Bunting an inherent advantage over smaller defenders, but it's his athleticism that makes Bunting one of the most intriguing receiving prospects in 2014.
Bunting runs a 4.63 40-yd dash and has a 36 inch vertical, astonishing measurables for a player his size. With favorable size, incredible physical ability and triple XL-sized gloves, quarterbacks need not worry about overthrowing Bunting. He brings down basically everything within his vicinity.
The recruitment process has only just begun for Bunting, but he's already drawn interest from numerous power conference schools, including Oregon, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington, Cal and Purdue, his only scholarship offer to date.
Bunting has made visits to Purdue and Illinois. The trip to Evanston was Bunting's latest visit, and while it wasn't his first time on campus – Bunting attended a camp over the summer – he enjoyed the experience.
"I never knew how nice it was there," Bunting recalled of NU. "I was really impressed. It's a great campus."
While he admires Prater's playing style, there's no guarantee Bunting will follow in the footsteps of his middle school idol and choose a hometown school. He enjoyed NU each time he's been on campus, but he has no timetable for a decision. In fact, Bunting just spliced together a new highlight tape using the coaching software hudl, which he plans to send out to schools recruiting him. He assured NU would get a copy.
For now, Bunting will remain in touch with wide receivers coach Dennis Springer, who plans to attend one of Bunting's games this Fall. Bunting is enamored of NU's academic stature, its proximity to Chicago and its lakeside location. But it's far too early to know where the school ranks on his list of suitors, mainly because Bunting is still picking up offers from various schools.
"I'm just kind of waiting it out right now," he said. "I've only been to a couple of schools, so we'll see. I like Northwestern, but I have to wait and see how things go."