Junior Devin Funchess was a revelation at wide receiver last season, catching 41 balls for 603 yards and five touchdowns after moving there in week five, and he will be staying put on the outside in 2014 even with an injury to starting tight end Jake Butt.
"He'll play H-back at times but the plan is right now is to get him schooled up so he can be a guy on the outside that is a threat every snap," head coach Brady Hoke said.
When Funchess spoke to the media earlier this week following Michigan's first practice of the spring, he had more confidence and greater conviction in his voice. The message was the same, though - wherever he needs to play, whatever role the staff asks of him, he will gladly do for his team.
"I don't really care, you know what I'm saying? I'm just trying to do as much as possible for the team," he said. "I'm a ball player. I like doing what I've got to do to get the 'W' on Saturdays. So that's what I look forward to."
The 6-5 Funchess played at 235 pounds last year and says he's down just a few pounds, to 232, as he prepares for a junior campaign in which he will, at least to start the year, be U-M's No. 1 receiver.
"I feel like I should be that guy to have a big role since I'm one of the leading receivers from last year's team," he said.
Funchess doesn't want to cut too much weight, though, in case an emergency demands he returns to tight end. He's confident, however, that junior classmate A.J. Williams, redshirt junior Keith Heitzman, and redshirt freshman Khalid Hill will be able to adequately replace Butt for as long as the sophomore is out after tearing his ACL earlier this month.
Funchess will keep his eye on the tight ends and help in anyway that he can but he's been spending most of his offseason mentoring the young receivers that must step up at his position. So far, he's been impressed with a few of his junior teammates.
"Freddy Canteen came in, and he's a blazer," Funchess said of the early-enrolled rookie. "I didn't expect that out of him because I didn't watch much film on him. So when he came in running that fast, I was kind of impressed. I kind of worked with him, making sure he can get a transition from high school to college. I told him today, him and [early enrollee] Drake Harris, 'You've got grown men playing now. You've got grown men that we're going against up here in college, you're not in high school anymore.'
"I'm just kind of keep putting that in their heads, so they can be ready."