Michigan players react to freshman Devin Funchess' historic breakout performance at tight end
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan freshman tight end Devin Funchess' performance Saturday against Air Force was a lot of things.
It was historic. Noteworthy. Impressive. Promising.
But one thing it wasn't, to the rest of the Wolverines anyway, was surprising.
"During camp, I think a lot of freshmen were standing out, but him in particular," senior center Elliott Mealer said about the rookie tight end. "He did a great job in camp, and obviously you guys got to see that (Saturday) during the game.
"He's shown that in camp, he's shown he's been a good player and I guess it wasn't too surprising when he got out there."
Funchess finished with four catches for 106 yards and a touchdown against Air Force, earning him Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and also giving him the honor of becoming the first Michigan tight end to record a 100-yard receiving game since 1997.
The 6-foot-5, 229-pound Funchess was impressive in his debut, and he showed a little bit of everything in it. He showed the ability to make plays over the middle early, something Michigan was desperately missing with the graduation of ex tight end Kevin Koger.
More impressive, though, was his ability to make plays vertically. His jump-ball touchdown grab was Junior Hemingway-esque, and his bobbled, one-handed reel in grab down the sideline was a prime example of hands, concentration and the ability to run right by linebackers.
"The future looks bright for him," Michigan safety Thomas Gordon said. "He's got the (speed) to out run linebackers, and he's bigger than defensive backs. That's to his advantage."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he and his coaching staff knew they could use Funchess as a weapon this season, and his ability to put on weight during the summer and fall made that a reality.
He's likely not where Michigan would like him to be weight-wise from a blocking standpoint, but from a raw skill ability, he appears to be everything the Wolverines could hope for and more.
"He's done a nice job, I will say, in getting bigger (from) when he got here," Hoke said. "He's not afraid, which is good, because blocking's a big part of it.
"You still have to do a good job at the point of attack, he's got ability and he's a little bit of a mismatch problem because of his range and his ability to run."
Funchess' breakout game was sparkling, even if he's got a long way to go. And it's especially sparkling for Michigan, consider the overall lack of receiving depth the team currently has on its roster.
It's only been one game, and he's only a freshman -- but right now, the Wolverines don't really care.
"He didn't look like a true freshman at all when he was playing," left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "I'm excited about him."