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Sean Bunting decided to bet on himself, opting to forgo his senior year at Central Michigan to enter the NFL Draft.

And, Bunting’s decision paid off when he was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 39 overall pick Friday night, the seventh pick in the second round.

Bunting watched the draft with his mother, Kimberly Murphy, family and friends back home in Macomb County.

Bunting was the highest Central Michigan draft pick since offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the No. 1 overall pick by Kansas City in the 2013 NFL Draft.

In fact, Bunting was the highest Mid-American Conference draft pick since Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis was selected No. 5 overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 draft. Western offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (Southfield) was the top MAC player (third round, No. 92 Pittsburgh Steelers) last year.

Bunting, who played his high school ball at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, earned first-team All-MAC honors as a cornerback for the Chips his junior year this past fall.

Bunting participated in the NFL Combine this past winter at Indianapolis and left feeling he was a top five cornerback.

“I was focused, going in with the mindset of just being the best and being the best I can and giving everything I can (in the combine),” the 6-foot, 195-pound Bunting said prior to Friday’s second day of the draft. “At the end of the day I told myself I’d leave that place with no regrets.

“Going into the combine it was preparation, preparation, just getting ready for the combine, like the best 40 time and things like that, and like I said once I got the opportunity I just made the best of it and did my best.”

Bunting ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and had shuttle times and other drills that would place him in the top five for cornerbacks.

Well, Bunting was the fourth cornerback picked in the draft, the third in the second round. He felt he had a good vibe after talking with representatives of the Raiders, and the Raiders used the No. 40 overall pick to grab cornerback Trayvon Mullen of national champion Clemson.

In fact, there were 11 defensive backs picked in the second round, including seven cornerbacks.

So, why did Bunting decide to leave early from CMU?

“I just wanted to compete and be the best and compete with the best and that was my mindset,” said Bunting, who trained at Rep 1 Sports Group in Irvine, California following his junior year to prepare for the draft. “I sat down with everyone, talked things over and decided the only way I could be the best was if I made the decision to play at the next level.”

When asked to talk about his strength as a corner, Bunting replied: “I would say my biggest strength is my physicality and my speed, how I am at the line of scrimmage. I’m physical, I put my hands on and like to be able to dominate guys there and be a ball hawk.

“I felt I was more physical last year, dominated at the line of scrimmage so it made things a lot easier in the back end.”

Bunting put on 25 pounds since his senior year at Chippewa Valley. He played outstanding in his final high school game while playing on both sides of the ball in a 48-35 regional final loss to Detroit Cass Tech when Cass Tech running back Mike Weber rushed for a career-high 404 yards and five touchdowns.

“I’m very, very grateful for everything my mom has done for me and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without her,” Bunting said. “I just feel like this is a good chance to be able to support and provide for my family.”

Weber, who decided to leave Ohio State a year early, is also expected to be picked in the draft, as is Ohio State offensive lineman Michael Jordan (Plymouth).

Toledo receiver Diontae Johnson was the first pick of the third round, taken No. 66 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost former CMU All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders.

dgoricki@detroitnews.com

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