Michigan fans are excited about Devin Funchess’ move to full-time receiver.
They’re beside themselves, actually.
However, during Monday’s presser at the Crisler Center, Funchess, who also happens to be a projected first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, per Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, said the move from tight end to the edge was merely business as usual.
The switch doesn't come with any added thrills for the 6’5”, 230-pound junior who scooted over for the betterment of his team. He just wants to punch the clock and go to work.
“I mean, yeah, I’m excited—but I just like playing the game of football,” Funchess said in a nonchalant tone. “I just want to go out there and give my best every Saturday—no matter what position I’m playing—and just try to get the job done for the team.”
Getting the job done is only the beginning because expectations for the former Farmington Hills Harrison star are sky high. Blame his past two seasons for that.
In 2013, he extended his streak of receptions to 14 consecutive games and was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s best tight end. Next to Jim Mandich, he’s the only other Wolverines tight end to have back-to-back 100-yard games and three in total.
He also won the Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year Award.
In 2012, he was named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team; he was All-Freshman by ESPN’s standards, and he met Phil Steele’s all-frosh criteria as well, per his team bio.
If that's not enough to tab him as Michigan's top threat on offense, nothing is.
Need more convincing? Let Maize 'N Brew's Drew Hallett help in that department:
The Football is in Good Hands with Mr. Safety Net
One way or another, Funchess is going to be a valuable asset to Team 135—perhaps the most valuable. In terms of size and athletic ability, he serves as the ultimate offensive weapon. He can catch in traffic, but more importantly, he can corral receptions that would be otherwise impossible for most to handle—and for most corners and safeties to defend.
As the O-line continues to grow, Devin Gardner, the quarterback, is going to need a sure thing; that’s Funchess, who is one of the “top two athletes” on the team, according to the fifth-year senior. Michigan has depth at wide receiver, but it lacks experience and returning production.
Jake Butt has 20 catches on his resume, but the tight end is nursing an ACL and probably won’t play for weeks. Jehu Chesson, who can line up inside or outside, has 15 to his credit; but he’s still working on refining his skill set.
Funchess, a Biletnikoff (award for top WR) candidate and a physical mismatch for most, is polished and ready to go. While the others strive to gain their bearings, he’ll be causing “big problems”—as Jourdan Lewis, a corner, suggested on media day—for the competition.
Showing Off Under the Lights
Nearly two weeks ago, Michigan took the field for an “under the lights” scrimmage, giving fans another glimpse prior to the season opener against Appalachian State. It was only a practice, but it certainly provided clues as to who’ll do what this fall.
Judging by that Saturday night at The Big House, Funchess shouldn’t have much to worry about, nor should his coaches. While battling Jabrill Peppers, the other half of Gardner’s “top two,” Funchess came out on top more times than not.
His backpedaling touchdown reception was impressive. It almost looked too easy. Keep this in mind: That play wasn’t against a regular first-year kid or someone buried on the depth chart.
No, he secured the score by catching a ball that was thrown to Peppers’ back, a ball that few players at any level could have lassoed.
If he can do that to Peppers, an elite's elite, imagine what he'll do to the rest.
As a sophomore, Funchess contributed with 49 catches for 748 yards, six touchdowns and an average of 15.6 yards per catch. As a seldom-used freshman, he turned in 15 for 234, five and 15.3.
The towering specimen is an offensive coordinator’s dream.
When asked if he was eager to see Funchess in action, Doug Nussmeier, the OC, played it cool by saying, “Obviously, Funch, his production speaks for itself. He’s a very, very talented player.”
Nussmeier is correct: Funchess’ production speaks loud and clear.
But his potential screams.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.