|This was Devin Funchess's one impressive game in 2014|
As a sophomore in 2013, he split time between tight end and wide receiver, ending the year with 47 catches for 727 yards and 6 touchdowns. He thought that was good enough to warrant asking for the #1 jersey, which is kinda sorta given to players who will honor the jersey with their leadership and play on the field; Brady Hoke agreed to give it to him prior to the 2014 season.
Aside from an outstanding performance in the 2014 season opener against Appalachian State (3 touchdown receptions), Funchess was mostly a disappointment. His production slipped because of a mediocre offensive line and a struggling quarterback, but also because Funchess looked like he was going about 75% for most of the season. After spraining an ankle against Notre Dame in week two, he missed the next game against Miami. I've suspected for a while that he didn't want to go 100% because he was saving himself for the draft, and that's exactly what appears to have occurred. Funchess had numerous dropped passes, would not risk his body to make anything other than routine catches, and rarely attempted to break tackles despite being about 6" taller and 35-40 lbs. heavier than most defensive backs trying to bring him down.
At one point Funchess was projected to be a 1st round pick, and he still might be. His size and speed are tantalizing. I recently saw him projected as a #26 overall pick. The Detroit Lions took a similar player in the 1st round in 2014, Eric Ebron out of North Carolina. I would hope that NFL scouts and coaches look at Funchess's inconsistency and lack of effort in 2014 as a warning sign, but you never know.
I cannot say that I wish Funchess professional success beyond college. I am indifferent to his success. He was moved away from tight end because he was unwilling to block, and he took the #1 jersey physically but not in spirit. Head coach Brady Hoke stated that he didn't name captains until the end of 2014 because he thought the 2013 squad had too much of a sense of entitlement, but entitlement seemed apparent in Funchess. Maybe that's a product of the leadership Hoke mentioned from last year. Regardless, I have very little respect for players who don't put forth maximum effort, especially on such a regular basis.