He’s got the size. He’s got the speed. He’s got the athleticism. And now, he has a new role in the offense. Devin Funchess is quickly becoming a big time player for the Michigan Wolverines.
The move from tight end to wide receiver for sophomore Devin Funchess has paid off in a big way for Michigan’s offense. While you can still find the 6’5, 235 pounder lined up on the line, you’ll often see him on the outside where he is a match up nightmare for smaller, weaker secondary players. When he’s not out-muscling defenders and catching balls, he’s at least occupying them allowing his fellow pass catchers more opportunities to make big plays. One not need look any further than Jeremy Gallon’s record setting performance against Indiana a week ago to see an example of this.
Last year Michigan fans saw flashes of what Funchess and his large athletic frame could bring to the table catching 15 receptions for 234 yards and five touchdowns. However, with a less than spectacular passing game for most of the season, Funchess wasn’t featured as much as some would have liked. Now in his sophomore season, Funchess is doing what everyone thought he could. In the seven games played this season, Funchess has already surpassed last year’s totals, hauling in 23 receptions 492 and four touchdowns. His breakout game came against Minnesota. This was the first time Funchess had been featured at wideout, and it paid off. He finished the game with seven receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t looked back since. The biggest knock I had on Funchess last year, and to begin this year, was his blocking. Tight Ends can’t just survive on pass catching, especially on a team that wants to establish the run. For this reason the move to wide receiver has paid off in more ways than one.
What does this mean for the future? Well, Michigan’s offense has become much more dynamic, especially last week when the coaches decided to open things up. Putting a big, physical receiver on the outside demands attention from the defense. Having quick, athletic guys like Gallon and Drew Dielo really makes a defense pick their poison. It will be interesting to see how Michigan State plans to take away these options in a week. If Michigan continues to utilize the weapons they have on the outside, the offense should stay potent which is especially important after last week in a game that has raised a lot of questions defensively for the Wolverines.
My prediction? Funchess will continue to develop in his new role. If he can average 100 yards a game from here on out, he will end the regular season with 1,000 yards receiving, and I think he will do it. This, along with a handful of additional touchdowns could be enough for an All-B1G honor. The future is bright for this young man and Michigan football.