As a true freshman in 2012, Michigan Wolverines tight end Devin Funchess recorded his first catch at the collegiate level in a 31-25 win over Air Force. His first career catch wasn’t his only grab of the day as the 6’5″, 229-pounder would finish with four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon.
On that day, it seemed as though Funchess would become a key contributor in Michigan’s offense for all of 2012 and beyond. Only that didn’t turn out to be the case whatsoever. Though he did finish the year with a team-leading five scores, Funchess would never catch more than two passes in any game the rest of the season.
So, what happened? Michigan wasn’t very adept at getting the ball downfield much of the season, for one. Also, after Funchess’ big game against Air Force, future opponents learned just how dangerous he can be and made sure the big guy received a little extra attention in the secondary.
Plus, of course, he was a true freshman. Most freshmen, especially in Ann Arbor, don’t make much of an impact on the field at all. But Funchess’ skill set is of a rare variety and it’s difficult to keep a pass-catcher with his size, speed and strength from becoming a key contributor in your offense for long.
Michigan’s receiving corps is arguably one of the weakest positions across its roster heading into 2013, so the effectiveness of Funchess throughout the season is even more vital to the success of the offense. Senior Devin Gardner will likely open the season under center and the two are capable of doing some serious damage should they be able to develop some chemistry through the spring and summer.
Hopefully in 2013 Funchess can start hot once again, only this time remaining that way over the course of the season. Head coach Brady Hoke has an immensely talented recruiting class on its way in, but the Wolverines will need the youngsters with a full year of Big Ten football under their belt to step into larger roles in 2013. It goes without saying that Funchess is one of those youngsters, perhaps the most important of them all.