Each Friday, Ultimate Autographs will feature one athlete that is part of the Ultimate Autographs lineup. This week's Friday Featured Athlete is newly signed Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Devin Funchess.
Devin Funchess was a three-sport athlete in high school, helping lead Harrison High School's football team to a Division II State Championship while also playing basketball and competing in track & field. Coming out of high school, Devin Funchess was regarded as a four-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com and was considered a top-five tight end recruit. Devin Funchess would commit to the University of Michigan, becoming one of the top recruits in the Wolverines' 2012 recruiting class.
It would not take long for Devin Funchess to become an immediate impact player for the Michigan Wolverines. Not redshirting like many freshman college football athletes, Devin Funchess was thrust into a starting role in just the second game of his first year at Michigan. Devin Funchess put up 106 receiving yards in his first career start, becoming the first Wolverines tight end to do so in 15 years. Devin Funchess went on to be a 2012 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection by media members and was named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team due to his success as a freshman for the prestigious University of Michigan football program.
He continued to find success in his sophomore season, becoming one of the Michigan Wolverines' top receiving threats. The Wolverines looked for wayts to utilize Devin Funchess' athleticism in full. Although built like a tight end, Devin Funchess had the athleticism of a wide receiver and the team lined him up in multiple positions. Similar to the way the New England Patriots utilized Rob Gronkowski, the Michigan Wolverines aimed to create matchup nightmares for defensive players by lining Devin Funchess up in multiple positions. Devin Funchess would set career highs in receiving yards and longest reception on the way to earning the Big Ten's Tight End of the Year Award in 2013.
Devin Funchess would move to wide receiver full time for his final season at the University of Michigan and finished with 62 receptions, 733 yards and 4 touchdowns. He would forego his final year of eligibility and entered the 2015 NFL Draft where he was selected with the 41st overall pick by the Carolina Panthers.
Similar to his freshman year at Michigan, an injury situation put Devin Funchess into a starting role almost immediately. Starting WR Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn ACL in training camp, which immediately put the spotlight on the standout rookie. It would take a few weeks of acclimating to the NFL game but eventually, Devin Funchess finally broke out in Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers, scoring a touchdown on 71 receiving yards on 3 catches.
He would finish his rookie season with 473 receiving yards, the fifth most in franchise history by a rookie WR and five touchdowns, the second most in franchise history by a rookie WR.
Devin Funchess continued to be a complimentary piece of a Carolina Panthers offense before taking over in 2017. He compiled 840 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns, helping lead the Carolina Panthers to the NFL Playoffs.
After a successful 4 year career with the Carolina Panthers, Devin Funchess signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts. He joins one of the AFC's rising teams and will almost certainly enjoy having Andrew Luck tossing him the football. He comes to the Indianapolis Colts with averages of 40 receptions, 549 yards and 5 TDs through his four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, immediately placing him among the top free-agent wide receiver signings in recent years by the Indianapolis Colts.
Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard sounded very excited to bring in Devin Funchess during an appearance on 1070 The Fan's "The Jeff and Big Joe Show" earlier this NFL offseason.
“Let me say this about Devin: when I was in Kansas City we really liked him. And I thought his third year in the league he really started making progress, to a point where you thought, 'Man, this guy is really coming on.' I mean, he's a big man, he's a really good athlete. I almost laugh — everybody says he's slow. I disagree with that assessment. He can bend. He's been inconsistent catching a football — he knows that — and there's things he needs to work on, but he's 24 years old. He's young, he's got upside. We liked the kid, we liked the work ethic. We did a lot of research on him and we think we can help him get to where he wants to go and he can help us get where we want to go.” (via Colts.com)
Devin Funchess will be just one of the handful of Indianapolis Colts stars who will be meeting with fans and signing autographs at the Incrediplex in Indianapolis on May 25. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Autograph Signing Event, please click here.
(Cover image via Devin Funchess' Twitter)