Bundrage making headway on NFL dream

Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage runs past TCU defenders during a game against TCU on Saturday. The Cyclones would go on to lose 45-21. 

Brian Mozey

A sound of a single pop. A torn ACL.

Just a handful of plays into the 2014 season, ISU wide receiver Quenton Bundrage was down and in pain. His season was over.

Now, more than two years later, Bundrage has created a new outlook toward life and his love for the game of football. 

He has the opportunity and drive to become a wide receiver in the NFL.

“It’s definitely been an up-and-down college football career,” Bundrage said. “I will never give up on my dream and that’s to be a wide receiver in the NFL.” 

Bundrage was redshirted in 2011 and had minimal time on the field in 2012 during his redshirt freshman season. For Bundrage, those two years were meant to be learning years to understand the expectations and grasp the feeling of college football. 

Once Bundrage reached his redshirt sophomore year in 2013, he put his name on the map. He had 48 catches, 676 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, ranking himself among some of the better wide receivers around the country. 

During and after the 2013 football season, Bundrage received phone calls and text messages from some NFL scouts. Teams were impressed with his numbers and couldn’t believe he still had two more years left. For Bundrage, it became an unimaginable experience. It was a dream come true.

“I wasn’t used to getting text messages and meeting NFL scouts, so it was a different experience for me,” Bundrage said. “I was honored to have the opportunity to talk with these types of scouts.”

All that confidence from the 2013 season led Bundrage to wanting more, so the offseason before the 2014 season was intense and challenging. Bundrage said he knew he could be better than the previous season and wanted to push himself to higher goals.

He said he knew he had become one of the leaders on the ISU offense, so he needed to prepare like one. Bundrage started to increase his training both on and off the field. 

He practiced running drills to increase his speed and could always be seen communicating with quarterback Sam Richardson to solidify running patterns. Off the field, Bundrage looked at his diet to make sure he stayed in the best shape for the season that would make or break his chances at the NFL draft. 

He was ready for the beginning of the season. Then, Bundrage’s fears became a reality. 

It was the fourth play in the season opener against North Dakota State, and Iowa State ran a running play. Bundrage was on the right side of the field and went out to block. The cornerback tried to cut past Bundrage, who got his cleat stuck in the grass. 

“My cleat got stuck in the grass and I heard a pop in my knee,” Bundrage said. “Then there was intense pain for about 10 seconds. After that it didn’t hurt, so I thought I might be gone for a game and come back next week.”

There was a pop in the knee and a slight scream from Bundrage, who was experiencing one of the most painful injuries in football.

That pop in his knee was his ACL. He wouldn’t be out for just a game.

Bundrage would be done for the season.

His world was flipped upside down, and his NFL dreams became a faded image. 

Bundrage then had to make a hard transition to having a more coaching-type role than a player role throughout the 2014 season. 

“I’ve always been a player and not a coach, so seeing the game from the sideline was something new for me,” Bundrage said. “I tried my best to help the wide receivers with different defensive schemes that I saw along the sideline that could help them in the game.”

Along with coaching the young wide receiver core, Bundrage was rehabbing from his knee surgery. He started with simple stretching and continued to increase the workload on a weekly basis. His trust was fully placed into the ISU trainers. He said he was grateful to have the trainers and support along the way to recovery. 

Bundrage said he recovered from his injury relatively faster than what the trainers thought, which allowed him to have a full and productive offseason before his last college football season. He was fortunate enough to have one last opportunity to prove the health of his knee and bring back some of those NFL scouts. 

His senior year wasn’t anything like his 2013 season, but he proved that his knee wasn’t an issue any longer. Bundrage recorded 548 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2015, attracting a few NFL scouts. 

“My senior year in 2015 was a year of proving myself to the NFL scouts,” Bundrage said. “I could’ve improved upon my last year, but it at least showed the scouts that my knee was healthy and I’m capable of playing an entire season.”

After this past football season, Bundrage focused on performing well at Pro Day on March 22. He said he knew this was his last chance to prove his worth as a wide receiver for NFL teams and he displayed his skills in front of almost every NFL team. 

Bundrage recored 17 bench presses, a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 4.52-second 40-yard dash time, with some clocking it at 4.46 seconds. He said the numbers were good and showed that his knee is completely healthy, but he wanted to improve a few numbers from the Pro Day. 

He wanted to improve his vertical jump and his cone time. He said he wished he would have had a third try to jump for the vertical because he believes he could have passed 40 inches. His cone time was 7.07 seconds and he slipped on the grass, which slowed his time by a few seconds. 

About 15 NFL teams spoke to Bundrage after Pro Day to see how his knee was feeling and wanted to stay in contact with him for the next few weeks before the NFL Draft on April 28-30. Bundrage was humbled by the amount of scouts interested in him and hopes he can have a few private practices. 

“It was exciting to see all those NFL teams at the Pro Day last week,” Bundrage said. “I was just humbled by the opportunity to play in front of these scouts and have any chance to continue my future in football.”

Since the Pro Day, Bundrage has scheduled three private practices with three NFL teams. One of the teams is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which he’s excited for because he’s going to his hometown in Florida to see his mom. 

Bundrage said his mom is his rock and that she keeps tabs on any news and media regarding her son and his draft stock. She’ll call him with any updates, and he appreciates having her as his agent, but most importantly as his mom. 

From now until the NFL Draft in late April, Bundrage will await phone calls from NFL teams for private practices. As for the actual draft, Bundrage has heard multiple reports that he could be drafted in the late rounds. 

If he goes undrafted, Bundrage will need a team to call him and invite him to its rookie camp this upcoming summer. That one phone call will be a major step toward his future, but he’s hoping he’ll be drafted and go to rookie camp without a phone call. 

Former ISU football player and current Cleveland Browns tight end E.J. Bibbs went through the process of being undrafted and making it through rookie camps. Bibbs has been helping Bundrage prepare for Pro Day and is currently helping him keep a good mindset for the next month before the draft.

“E.J. [Bibbs] has been great throughout this process because he’s gone through the whole thing as an undrafted rookie,” Bundrage said. “I’m happy to call him a friend and I know he’ll be there for me no matter the situation.”

Bundrage only wants one opportunity to go to rookie camp for an NFL team and he will make sure to make a team. He said he’s worked hard to be in the best shape of his life and he’s ready to participate in a rookie camp.

He’s excited to start the next chapter of his football career and he couldn’t thank the coaching staff, teammates and trainers enough for all of their love and support during his years at Iowa State. He’ll take memories and skills he’s learned as a Cyclone along with him. 

“Iowa State was another home for me and I appreciate all the support from the coaches to my teammates to the trainers to the fans,” Bundrage said. “I hope to bring along my focus and determination to the next level in the NFL and, of course, my Cyclone spirit.”