Semper Fi: Frank Buncom

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Four-star safety Frank Buncom talks about his recovering knee, his final two visits and a decision date that's coming up very soon, as he arrives at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Semper Fidelis All-American Frank Buncom first hurt his left knee on Dec. 5, he knew -- knew -- that he’d torn something. But, there was a bit of a delayed reaction.

As Buncom dove out to make a tackle in the first quarter, his leg whipped around and hit another player’s legs, contacting on the outside of his left knee.

“It didn’t hurt, but I realized how unstable my knee was,” Buncom says. “The next play up, they lined up in a certain formation, so I checked the play of the line where I blitzed off the edge, and I just couldn’t go, because my knee would shift, so I went off to the sideline. I asked my trainer for a brace, and she wouldn’t give me a brace unless she checked on it, so she checked it, and it was moving way too much, so they shut me down.

“I was primed to have a good game, too. I had one catch for 45 yards. That was my one offensive play, and the defense fell into shambles after I left, because I’m the defensive playcaller.”

After the game, Buncom says, he “came to grips with the fact” that his MCL was torn.

“I just wanted my meniscus to be safe,” he says. He was so cautious about perhaps damaging the knee further that he had to postpone his official visit to California on Dec. 12. He didn’t want to fly with a torn anything.

“Our insurance is Kaiser, but we didn’t go through Kaiser; I would have just gotten an MRI yesterday [if we had],” says Buncom. “They take forever, so we went through a private guy, and we had it within a week. I got the MRI the day after the visit {would have been], and they declared that it wasn’t a tear. If there was more damage, I didn’t want to be on a plane, traveling, going up and down.”

Instead, Buncom just has to deal with a sprained MCL, and will not have to undergo surgery.

“I had two doctors’ opinions, and they both thought it was an MCL tear, and we were just hoping that the meniscus wasn’t torn, as well, and then, the MRI revealed that there were no tears at all,” Buncom says. “That was a blessing.”

Buncom has been trying to stay off the leg, keep it elevated and relax, icing and doing electronic stimulation to help the process.

“They told me I can get off the crutches whenever I can walk without pain, and I could walk without pain about a week ago,” Buncom says. “I’m trying to take it as slow as I can. I’ll go a day, walk around on it, get the strength back in it, and then, the next day, I’ll ice it a lot and try to use the crutches more to give it that extra day.”


After this week of All-American activities down in Southern California, Buncom will turn his attention back to recruiting, and he has two official visits left.

“I’ve already been to Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, and since I was forced to cancel my trip to Cal, I’ll be taking a trip to Stanford the weekend of Jan. 16, and then the following weekend, Jan. 23, I’ll be taking a trip to Cal,” Buncom says. “Pretty soon after that, on the 28th, I’ll be making my decision.”

Academics are paramount for Buncom, who hopes to be pre-med wherever he goes, but beyond that, there are a few other factors in his decision.

“At this point, Division I football is Division I football, so I consider that a wash,” Buncom says. “At this point, really, it’s just how I feel, the vibe that I get from campus. What this injury’s told me is that football can be taken away at any point, and if that happens to be the case, God forbid, then I want to make sure that I’m comfortable at that school, and being there four to five years, even if I have to do that without football.”

Buncom is already admitted to Stanford – which can be a roadblock to some recruits – primarily because the Cardinal have been recruiting him since his sophomore year.

“They gave me the application when I was still a junior,” Buncom says. “I turned it in, and I was admitted in the summer.”

What’s he expecting to see from his last two official visits, to the two Pac-12 North rivals?

“I’ve been to both of them multiple times, but the Stanford visits have been more thorough,” says Buncom. “I’ve been able to see classrooms and things like that, and as far as the Cal visits, I’ve only been able to see the football facilities and athletic facilities. The Stanford visit is going to be more just getting a vibe with the campus, but the Cal visit, I’m actually going to be able to branch out from the athletic department and be able to see the entire campus and interact with students.”

Finding out just how each of those schools can set him up for a profession in the medical world will also be on the docket.

“I’ve actually done my research into that, and there are some differences, some slight differences, between who’s going to be that much better, but you can thrive at all four of them,” Buncom says.

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