Junior defensive tackle Deylan Buntyn has shed 15 pounds and is learning the day-to-day intricacies of Division I football.
The Havelock, N.C., native attended New Mexico Military Institute for two seasons before enrolling last January for the NC State spring semester. His football persona has drastically changed since arriving in Raleigh, first with spring practices, and then followed by fall camp.
"I've been tired all the time, but other than that, it's kind of been life changing for me," Buntyn said. "It's something new. Back in New Mexico, I didn't get this. It's much harder and a lot better competition."
NC State defensive line coach Keith Willis Sr. has been pushing Buntyn hard, and for good reason. Rivals.com ranked him the No. 22 junior college recruit in the country. He had 16 tackles, three tackles for loss and New Mexico Military Institute went 9-3 last year.
"Coach Willis is always talking about going to class and getting my grades right," Buntyn said. "He wants me to get off the ball hard and just jack everybody up. That's his words, 'Jack everybody up.'"
Buntyn has learned it's not as easy to "jack everybody up" when going against the senior trio of guards R.J. Mattes and Zach Allen and center Camden Wentz.
"Even though I'm here at a D-I, I still have a lot more things that I need to work on," Buntyn said. "I need to extend my arms more and get off the ball harder. I need to shoot the gaps, and things like that.
"Saying it and doing it are two different things. I can say I can do this and that, but doing it is much harder than saying it."
The Tuesday scrimmage proved to be taxing for Buntyn, but playing for NC State is something he's looked forward to doing for quite some time.
"Oh man, was I tired," Buntyn said. "My best friend, [junior defensive tackle Isaac] Swindell helped me through it the whole way. He kept pushing me and said, 'Even though you are tired, you have to keep going.' That is what I did. Even though I got beat on some things, I still worked hard and ran 100 percent to the ball."
Buntyn half-joked that he used to play 120-degree heat white at New Mexico Military Institute, which produced former NCSU defensive tackle Natanu Mageo.
"We'd still be out there in 120 degrees, but it's easier here if it gets hot because I'm already used to it," Buntyn said.
The heat and two years of junior college football did not prepare him for the new Wolfpack strength and conditioning program under former player Corey Edmond.
"He has been a great, great help," Buntyn said. "When I first got here, I was at 340 pounds [on his 6-foot-4 frame]. I've lost about 10-15 pounds. I can run faster, longer and I've gotten stronger. I'm blessed to have him here. I'm comfortable now at 325, and that's hard to push off the line."
The trio of redshirt sophomore Thomas Teal, sophomore T.Y. McGill and Buntyn, gives NC State some considerable beef in the middle of the defensive line. Teal checks in at 6-2 and 315 pounds, while McGill is listed at 6-1 and 298. Redshirt freshman Carlos Gray is another massive defensive tackle at 6-4 and 321 pounds.
"T.Y. and I have some chemistry, but we need to build on that," Buntyn said. "I need to build on my own personal skills to get better."
Buntyn said Raleigh feels like a second home and has several features that his hometown of Havelock has. He knew NCSU redshirt junior outside linebacker Rickey Dowdy from years ago, but he is essentially making new friends. At 6-4 and around 330 pounds, you'd think Buntyn would stick out while walking around campus, but he doesn't get asked that often if he is on the football team.
"I knew one student, but he's already graduated," Buntyn said. "I don't talk about playing football, and they don't ask. I don't want people to ask football questions. I just leave the questions to the media."
NC State opens up against Tennessee at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Buntyn expects a few family members to be in attendance to watch the beginning of his NC State journey.
"I dream about the first game every single day," Buntyn said. "I'm just blessed to be here and it's a great honor. My parents and a couple of my friends are going [to the Tennessee game]."