2012 Recruiting: Devin Funchess Comment Count

Brian August 20th, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, and TE AJ Williams.

       
Farmington Hills, MI – 6'5", 229
       

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Scout 4*, #8 TE, #221 overall
Rivals 3*, #14 TE, #9 MI
ESPN 4*, #5 TE, #3 MI
24/7 4*, #10 TE, #8 MI
Other Suitors Michigan State, Nebraska, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois
YMRMFSPA A less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner, or Kevin Koger
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Tim. Ace scouts Harrison against Brother Rice and Cass Tech.
Notes Farmington Hills Harrison(Ojemudia)

Film

All kind of highlights from all the years:

He's also in the Cass Tech vs Farmington footage Ace got:

Has a hudl page.

Michigan's other tight end in the class of 2012 is as much of an outlier as their first—quasi-OL AJ Williams—but in the opposite direction. Farmington Hills Harrison's Devin Funchess is essentially a large wide receiver right now, a 6'5", 230 pounder who needs to fill out before he'll be able to block anybody but promises to outmatch any linebacker who is unfortunate enough to be put in one-on-one coverage with him.

To give you an idea of the kind of player we're talking about here:

  • Touch The Banner compares him to Ben Troupe, the former Florida TE who received his way to All-American status as a "wide receiver with a tight end frame."
  • TTB then follows that up with a "Carson Butler but sane" comparison, which is kind of like comparing someone to "Vincent Smith but tall."
  • 247 goes with former Texas ball-vacuum Jermichael Finley, who entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore year and put up a 4.6 at 242 pounds.

He's a flex TE, a standup outside guy who can jump-ball a corner or outrun a linebacker or flip sides of the line and gamely fend off a linebacker maybe (but probably not yet).

The trick with these guys is having them get up to a weight where they can block a linebacker while still being faster than that guy, and that's hard to predict. Funchess has a shot at it, though. Multiple scouting reports project that he will easily hit the 240-250 pound range that most of the splashy NFL tight ends mentioned above end up at. Josh Helmholdt:

…has a frame that will easily allow him to play at 240 pounds - or heavier - in college without losing any of his speed or athleticism. He has an impressive presence running down the middle of the field and is a big, inviting target for his quarterback. A long and rangy athlete, Funchess is very fluid in his movements and has great ball skills.

Michigan's coaches have told Funchess he'll get to 240 or 245, and his coach at the "International Bowl" said the same thing after doing some slavering($):

"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."

"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.' "

…and then mentioned that Funchess weighed all of 210—eight pounds less than WR Amara Darboh—at the game. He's listed at 229 on Michigan's roster, which seems like one of the more dubious weights available this time around.

ESPN liked him a lot, placing him just outside their top 150($):

…a kid who will contribute best as a pass catcher. He has very good hands and consistently uses those long arms to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. He displays very good body control and concentration to be able to adjust to the ball and make the catch in traffic. His height makes him a nice sized target, but he will also go up and high-point the ball which can make him a tough match-up for smaller defenders and potentially a nice target in the red-zone. He is not a kid that displays elite top end speed to run away from defenders and is a kid who seems to need to build speed, but he does have long strides and can cover some ground when runs and can help stretch the middle of the field.

He's an athlete who can get up. I mean…

image

…if NFL tight ends are now 6'5" Brent Petways, check. When Rivals caught him at the Midwest Showcase, the power forward reference came out:

The football does not melt into Funchess' hands quite the way it does for [Ron] Thompson, but the Farmington Hills Harrison product showed an unmatched level of athleticism. His background in basketball is apparent, especially when he is battling defenders for jump balls. Funchess goes up for a pass like a power forward pulling down a rebound, and at 6-4 with an impressive vertical, there are few defensive backs who will challenge him.

A couple of Funchess's catches from the International Bowl were balls that would have been filed "Tacopants" if thrown to a Martavious Odoms or even a Roy Roundtree. Check out 1:20 below for a McGuffie attempt that gets major air, and 2:00 for back-to-back catches that demonstrate how big of a target the kids is:

Funchess impressed Ace in limited opportunities to make a catch:

Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass… ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.

At worst he'll be a hell of a security blanket. He could be a guy announcers call a "weapon."

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Funchess might be as different from AJ Williams as it is possible for one tight end to be from another, but together they further reinforce two themes, one a flipping obvious Brady Hoke goal, the other an admittedly speculative but exciting guess at how Al Borges sees his offense in three or four years.

The flipping obvious bit: Michigan is going to be big. They're going to be big on the line, they're going to be big at tight end and have a number of tight ends, they're going to have big wide receivers. While Funchess is not big for a tight end, as a second tight end or a spread TE he makes Michigan's formations big.

The admittedly speculative bit is something first broached in the Williams piece: having guys like Funchess and Williams and Jake Butt and Khalid Hill plus fullbacks and spread backs like Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet allows you to whipsaw defenses back and forth between radically different formations, to poke at defensive weaknesses, to give your offense the sort of unpredictable variety that's made Boise State and Stanford so difficult to defend in recent years. Funchess makes you versatile($)…

… a kid that lines up at tight end, he lines up in the slot, he lines up at wide receiver… He does a lot of motion. He does a lot of things offensively, but also plays defense - kind of a defensive end/outside linebacker. He's very versatile, does a lot of things and is very athletic. He's got great size. He's a nice young man to have on your football team."

…and Michigan wants to use that($):

"Michigan told me today that they were talking just last night about different formations they could put me in," Funchess said. "When I came up there today, they were telling me how they could spread me out and use me as a stand-up receiver."

Increasingly, the meaning of "pro-style" offense is "whatever works against you (except running the quarterback)." See Tom Brady's shotgun-mad Patriots offense morphing into Tom Brady's dual-TE Patriots offense, or Drew Brees hitting Darren Sproles in space, or the Detroit Lions saying "huh, Megatron." Funchess is a key part of that kind of approach.

I involuntarily wince when I hear Michigan coaches talk about a pro-style offense because the last time that was in place around here the offensive coordinator literally ran the same #$*@ing play at the beginning of every game, but watching old SDSU tapes reassures.

Etc.: Thirty Devins agree: "we love bucket hats." Fun with chess! Someone once called him "The Funchise." I'm not sure if that's awful or something we should steal so hard. Tremendous interview. Drew Henson($) says "wow, first impression, looks like the real deal" and "will be an instant mismatch on LBs," whether underneath or vertically.

Why a less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner or Kevin Koger? Why tight ends went to Ohio State under Jim Tressel was unclear. Well, not that unclear: they went to win, and to block. And do nothing at all else. Stoneburner is the most recent example of a lanky, leaping tight end in the league, even if he is an amazingly underused weapon half of his 14 catches last year—more impressive when you consider that tied him for #1 amongst OSU receivers last year—went for touchdowns.

As for Koger, Funchess comes in with about the same hype and athleticism—Koger speared a couple of incredible catches in his time. Funchess will hopefully  be less prone to dropping the easy ones.

The NFL guys listed above are also pretty good comparables but Michigan has not had a guy with his combination of receiving skills and athleticism in a long time. Maybe Jerame Tuman, maybe Bennie Jopppru but neither of those guys seemed to have the leaping; Koger didn't have the catching skills; Massaquoi didn't have the athleticism. Funchess could turn into any of those, really, but I don't think Michigan will be as crappy at throwing productive bulk onto big athletes these days as they were in the mid-aughts.

Guru Reliability: High. They all basically say the same thing.

Variance: Moderate. Going from 210-229 to a rippling 240-250 is always a process that leaves some exciting high school athletes plodding shells of their former selves. Other than that, seems good to go.

Ceiling: High. NFL potential is clear.

General Excitement Level: High. Poised to be Michigan's most productive TE since the waggle days, not only because of the shift in offense but because of his flexibility. He can play in big sets, spread sets, regular sets, etc. A ton of playing time beckons from day one.

Projection: The idea of a TE redshirt is fanciful, especially with Michigan hurting for receiving depth. He'll play. At first that will probably be in the redzone, where big sets are common and his length and leaping ability will make him an attractive target in crowded goal-line endzones. Will also feature as a Koger-esque H-back between the 20s.

Likely to be a four-year starter, or starter-ish type player in the vein of Courtney Avery, who may not "start" but plays just as much as anyone else on the defense not named Kovacs. I wouldn't put it past him to challenge Jim Mandich's all time TE receiving yardage (1489) given the situation he finds himself in.

Comments

JeepinBen

August 20th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

You had a problem with "Zone Left" as every first play?

What, we gave it to Mike Hart to run behind Jake Long...

and then finally play-actioned off it against Florida. It was glorious

FreddieMercuryHayes

August 20th, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

It was all part of the plan. I can picture the game planning now: Lloyd and Debord sitting in the coaches meeting laying out the master plan of running the same plays for two years, just to pull out the play action for one game. And no, they won't save it for a silly game like OSU, they're keeping that razzle-dazzle for the Cap One bowl, the biggest stage of all. No one will see it coming...

Wolverine0056

August 20th, 2012 at 11:00 AM ^

I, for one, am super excited to see Funchess play this year. I think he brings a level of play that will be pretty exciting and frustrating for opposing defenses. His size and athleticism makes him an interesting target for Denard / Gardner / Bellomy / Morris. 

massblue

August 20th, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

That is a good comparison.  I think I read an interview with Borges where he said that they have studied New England's use of TE and they are moving in that direction.

Needs

August 20th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

Hernandez isn't nearly as tall as Funchess. IIRC, he's around 6'2. Funchess seems more in the line of the power forward TE (Gates/Jimmy Graham/Finley)

Hopefully, Finley is an accurate comparison, because when he's catching the ball, he's well nigh uncoverable. Too fast for LBs and many safeties, too big for CBs.

MattisonMan

August 20th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

I had always wondered what a guy like Terelle Pryor or Devin Gardner would look like at a different position (though we'll see Gardner out wide as well apparently).  I think he is a pretty similar body type.  Seeing him run reminds me of those guys - that long, deceptive stride.  He'll be an interesting one to watch over the years, and I'd hope he's getting some snaps lined out wide as well this season.  

readyourguard

August 20th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

I expect Funchess to play this year, due to the state of our current receiving corps.  It sucks to burn a redshirt for a guy that could ultimately add those 40 pounds, but the need for pass catchers NOW is more urgent.  IMO, of course.

Bodogblog

August 20th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

I don't think it will be a waste, meaning I think his contributions this year will be significant.  Just look at the Brandon Moore CTK and see some of his glide. 

As a fan it's natural to overrate incoming freshmen, but this kid looks unlike any TE I've seen us have in the past.  We've had some great ones, and if his production matches their best he'll be a star.  But I don't remember a combination of skills like this before.  Potential "weapon" is a great way to put it.  He's the type of player who at some point in his career is going to have crazy 8-9 catch games, as DC's stubbornly refuse to substitute for him and Borges hits a weak point in the defense over and over.

smwilliams

August 20th, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

Awesome preview and I think Borges saw Gronk and Jimmy Graham last year running roughshod over NFL secondaries and thought, "oooh, fun".

But, I come to MGoBlog for one reason... sentences like this...

 

  A less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner

Bravo, sir.