Deylan Buntyn was hanging out with friends and family on a Saturday night, waiting for that call that would change his life.
Earlier in the day, he earned his degree from N.C. State. Hours later, at his home in Havelock, Buntyn answered a phone call from his agent.
Around 9 p.m., not long after the conclusion of Saturday’s NFL Draft, Buntyn agreed to a free agent contract with the New England Patriots.
“When I got that call, I cried. I’ve always dreamed about this happening,” Buntyn said. “My agent gave me a call and said he talked to the NFL scout (from the Patriots) that I had a private workout with.
“You know how they say, ‘the call that changes your life?’ That’s what it was. I will remember that for the next 80 years.”
Buntyn, a 6-foot-4, 339-pound nose guard, received an encouraging message from the Patriots’ scout.
“He said he liked everything about me – my speed, my strength and that they are excited to have me down there,” he said.
Playing in the NFL is a dream he’s had since he graduated from Havelock High in 2009.
But the path wasn’t easy.
Out of high school, Buntyn originally signed to play at Winston-Salem State. He then spent two years at New Mexico Military Institute before signing at N.C. State.
“I’ve been through a long, hard and miserable journey. I went to Winston-Salem State to the school in New Mexico to N.C. State,” Buntyn said. “I’ve learned to always stay positive and to always stick to that path. This is the skill I have and I am going to utilize it to my fullest.”
Buntyn played in all 12 games for the Wolfpack last fall. He then participated in N.C. State’s Pro Day in late March.
“My former d-line coach (Ryan Nielsen) taught me a lot of things that helped me out during my Pro Day,” Buntyn said.
Buntyn leaves for a rookie mini-camp later in the week. He is hoping to become the fourth Havelock native to make an NFL roster spot. Bruce Carter is with the Dallas Cowboys and Guy Whimper is with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while A.J. Jenkins was drafted in the ninth round in 1989 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He is going to a Patriots’ defense that uses a 3-4 formation.
“I’m going there to take someone’s job,” Buntyn said. “I’m going to whoop butt every play, every down. I want to out-shine everybody at my position.”
Once he arrives at the mini-camp and training camp, Buntyn is hoping to learn from some of the veterans.
“I think they will teach me how to be more disciplined, how to play better and doing whatever to help the team,” Buntyn said. “I’m nervous as it is. I just can’t wait to get situated and learn the system.”
Training camp for the Patriots starts at the end of July in Foxboro, Mass.
Adam Thompson is a reporter for the Sun Journal.