Weight: 235 lbs.
High school: Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: #19
Last year: I ranked Funchess #53 and said he would be the backup U-back. He caught 15 passes for 234 yards (15.6 yards/catch) and 5 touchdowns.
Funchess came into his freshman season at approximately 225 lbs., and as one might expect from a tight end that size, he was bound to struggle a little bit physically. At one point this summer, he admitted to having been a "pretty boy" who didn't like to be physical. That combination of size and pretty boy-ishness kept him from some early playing time and the ability to play as an in-line blocker, but Denard Robinson liked using him as a passing target early in the year. In week two against Air Force, Funchess had 106 receiving yards and his first career touchdown. Things were going well early in the season, but Robinson's elbow injury and Devin Gardner's subsequent insertion at quarterback curtailed Funchess's production; Robinson was adept at hitting tight ends and inside receivers, whereas Gardner liked to look outside a little more. Still, his season was good enough to warrant Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and several Freshman All-American nods.
I expect Gardner to look in Funchess's direction more often this season. You can't ignore a 6'5", swift guy like Funchess for too long. He's a matchup problem for linebackers because of his speed and defensive backs because of his size. If the quarterback can put the ball in the right place, Funchess will basically be open on every single pass play. Michigan doesn't have another significant receiving threat at the position, so losing Funchess for any length of time would possibly alter the offense in a big way. Freshman Khalid Hill is a 6'2", 258 lb. option at the position, and fellow freshman Jake Butt is a big target but perhaps not quite as athletic. Senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon will almost certainly lead the team in receiving, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Funchess in second place by the end of the year.
Prediction: Starting U-back; 35 receptions, 500 yards, 6 touchdowns