It might have been just one game against Appalachian State, but Devin Funchess—the wide receiver—looks like one of the most dynamic players in the college game.
The former tight end for Michigan has made the full-time switch to wideout and exploded on Saturday. With seven receptions against the Mountaineers, Funchess collected 95 yards and three touchdowns for the Maize and Blue.
In a game that the Wolverines needed to win, Funchess came up huge, as SportsCenter notes:
Michigan gets long-awaited revenge, beats Appalachian State, 52-14. Devin Funchess: 7 Rec, 95 Yds, 3 TD pic.twitter.com/rVgKnMkwUO— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 30, 2014
As for the significance of Funchess' performance, it was the first time he was wearing the No. 1 on the field. ESPN Stats & Info notes the history behind the number for the program:
Devin Funchess with 3 TD in 1st game wearing #1. Last time Michigan WR wore #1 was Braylon Edwards on Jan. 1, 2005 (also had 3 TD in game)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2014
Maybe it was the switch to receiver. Or maybe it was the change to jersey number No. 1 for the 2014 season. Whatever it was that caused it, it's clear that a switch has been on for Funchess heading into his junior season.
As a sophomore, Funchess contributed with 49 catches for 748 yards, six touchdowns and an average of 15.6 yards per catch as a tight end. In one game as a receiver, he's proved why the switch was made.
Following the season opener, Funchess spoke confidently about his ability, per Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com:
"I’m not really a normal WR -- 6-4 or 6-5, 236 -- that’s what I was today. I feel like no one can match up w/ that size." - Devin Funchess— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) August 30, 2014
His size certainly makes him a matchup nightmare. But as a tight end last season, the most receptions he had were capped at seven—a mark he already eclipsed on Saturday.
But Saturday's might not be the only stage where Funchess plays in the future. After breaking out as a tight end last season, his name is already coming up on the list of wide receivers with NFL potential.
Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News and Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report pass along their thoughts on the wideout:
By the way, Devin Funchess will kill it on Sundays whenever he makes the jump.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) August 30, 2014
If you liked Alshon Jeffery, you’ll love Devin Funchess. A lot more composed as a wide receiver than he ever was a tight end.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) August 30, 2014
Now that his abilities have been spread out on the field, it's clear that he can become a much more explosive player for Michigan. Unfortunately, a wide receiver is only as good as his quarterback in most situations.
Luckily, the connection between Funchess and quarterback Devin Gardner is working, as Mike Huguenin of NFL.com notes:
Funchess will be Michigan's go-to receiver this fall, and he and Gardner -- who was 13-of-14 for 173 yards and the three TDs -- looked in sync against App State, whose secondary was an issue heading into the season. It also helped Gardner that the running game, which was an embarrassment last season, came up huge Saturday: 350 yards, with two tailbacks (sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith) reaching the 100-yard plateau.
What is the potential for Funchess this season?
Here's the kicker: All of that production came against App State. Sure, it was a notable game because of the history between the two programs, but similar production will be a necessity in Week 2 for the Wolverines.
While the Mountaineers head off to face Campbell, Michigan's next destination is in South Bend to face Notre Dame. With the huge game on tap, Funchess will be the go-to receiver and have heightened expectations.
By his post-game remarks, it's clear that Funchess believes he will be a massive factor in Michigan's success. As his potential and production finally start to match up, the 2014 season might be a special one for the Wolverines if Funchess continues to shine.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.