63 Days Away from Bama Kickoff: Jim Bunch
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. The Crimson Tide takes the field in 63 days, so let's continue the run of offensive linemen and take a look at the career of former Alabama tackle Jim Bunch.
Jim Bunch suited up for the Crimson Tide from 1976-1979 and is one of many memorable players to come out of the Paul Bryant era. A major contributor to coach Bryant's last two national championship teams, Bunch defined what it means to be an Alabama football player with his dedication to the program.
Hailing from Mechanicsville, VA, Bunch was never actually meant to even be at Alabama. After his senior year of high school, the offensive tackle enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia where he garnered some interest from schools such as Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, but no love from the SEC powerhouse.
It was only after an Alabama assistant coach saw Bunch while watching film of another prospect that the 6-foot-1, 230 lb. lineman stuck out.
Bunch enrolled at Alabama ahead of the 1976 season and, despite his inexperience, was thrust into a starting role just three games into his career. He was the only freshman to start for the Tide that season and was named to the SEC All-Freshmen First Team.
As a sophomore, Bunch once again anchored the Alabama offensive line, helping the team to a 11-1 record and victory in the Sugar Bowl over Ohio State.
In 1978, Bunch's junior season, the undersized tackle would continue his streak of dominance, earning first team All-SEC honors once more and helping Alabama win its 10th national title.
Finally, in his fourth and final season as a starter, Bunch was named a unanimous All-American for his play and helped the Tide win its second title in a row, taking down Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
After a lengthy, four-year career in Tuscaloosa, Bunch came away as a two-time national champion, two time All-SEC selection and unanimous All-American in 1980.
Despite his laundry list of accolades, Bunch never received a shot in the NFL, with many teams citing his undersized frame as a concern.
Now, Bunch resides in Valley Head, AL where he operates Winston Place Bed and Breakfast with his wife, Leslie.