How Macomb Township native Sean Murphy-Bunting grew into a Super Bowl talent

The former Central Michigan athlete was selected by Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 NFL draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. (Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers via AP)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. (Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers via AP) (Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Tampa Bay Buccaneer cornerback and Macomb Township native Sean Murphy-Bunting is one win away from a Super Bowl championship because he always bet on himself.

Murphy-Bunting is considered to be an intimidating cornerback, but it didn’t start out that way.

“He’s probably not gonna like I’m saying this but he was really small. He was like 5-feet-7-inches tall, maybe 125 pounds,” said Scott Merchant, Chippewa Valley football head coach.

Merchant said Murphy-Bunting grew by junior year and became one of the best players in the state senior year. However, the D1 offers weren’t there on signing day. So he and his mother Kim took matters into their own hands.

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“His mom made him get in the car in March and drive up to Central Michigan on a Saturday during spring ball. They went into the football building and they went to find (CMU coach) John Bonemego,” Merchant said.

“God was talking to me like ‘Just go up there.’ So I woke Sean up and I said let’s go, and he’s like where are we going? I said we’re going to Central Michigan,” said Kim Murphy-Bunting.

Sean Murphy-Bunting met with new head coach John Bonemego, who offered him a gray shirt on the spot. He used the extra semester to learn the system and developed into a star for Central Michigna.

After three years, he bet on himself again and went to the NFL draft where he was selected 39th overall in 2019 by the Buccaneers.

“He’s a hard worker. When he has his mind set on something, he works hard at it,” said Kim Murphy-Bunting.

The hard work is paying off big time for Sean, who’s got three interceptions in three playoff games. Merchant, who already has his gear, will be watching from home. Kim Murphy-Bunting will be in the stand as always, as his biggest fan.

“He earned every bit of being in the Super Bowl,” she said.


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Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.