Weight: 230 lbs.
High school: Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: #87
Last year: He caught 49 passes for 748 yards (15.3 yards/catch) and 6 touchdowns, plus he had 6 carries for 34 yards.
Funchess entered the 2013 season as a starting tight end with significant promise. Unable to block with any consistency whatsoever, the coaches decided to split him out wide midway through the season. He ended the season as a budding star wideout, an All-Big Ten selection (albeit still as a tight end), and someone who looked capable of potentially wearing the #1 jersey at Michigan. Opposite record-setter Jeremy Gallon, they were opposites in many ways. Gallon was 5'8", while Funchess is 6'5". Gallon was tough and hard-nosed, whereas Funchess is a finesse player despite his size. Upperclassman Gallon was as consistent as receivers come, but Funchess would turn some easy catches into drops. What they both had in common was a knack for the big play and an ability to stretch the defense. Funchess had huge days against Minnesota (7 catches, 151 yards, 1 touchdown) and Penn State (4 catches, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns), not to mention some mind-blowing disrespect for gravity as he hurdled diving tacklers against Indiana and Ohio State. It's not a total stretch to throw out a comparison to Calvin Johnson due to their similar dimensions (Johnson is 6'5", 236 lbs.) and reported speeds (Johnson ran a 4.35 prior to his draft, while Funchess is rumored to have run a 4.33 hand-timed forty this summer). That's a lofty comparison, but it's inevitable.
Funchess will be a full-time wide receiver in 2014, which means he'll be coached by Jeff Hecklinski, who has worked wonders with the likes of Gallon and Junior Hemingway. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's quarterbacks have averaged 32 touchdown passes a year over the past three seasons, and a large portion of those touchdowns will likely be tossed from quarterback Devin Gardner to Funchess. Funchess is a matchup nightmare with his size and speed, and he's agile enough to be an end around or bubble screen threat. He has been prone to concentration lapses at times, so Michigan fans should probably expect an occasional frustrating drop. Nussmeier likes to run the ball, and the play action passing game will probably be a large part of the arsenal. Funchess won't put up video game numbers because of the balance required, but he will probably find himself around 1,000 yards by the end of the season and nearing double-digit touchdowns. His backup is redshirt sophomore Amara Darboh, someone with lots of practice hype but nothing to show for it on the field. There would still be potential at receiver if Funchess were to go down for any stretch of time, but that would be a huge blow to the Wolverines' offense.
Prediction: Starting split end; 60 catches, 950 yards, 10 touchdowns