Ann Arbor — Devin Funchess does not profess to be a historian of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.
The junior from Farmington Hills is part of it now, though, as a Michigan receiver.
But while he was growing up, he didn’t have a sense of its significance.
“I didn’t watch football,” said Funchess, who takes the field today as Michigan plays at No. 8 Michigan State. “I was a basketball guy. I didn’t really watch this growing up.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Funchess attended Harrison High and played for John Herrington. Harrison and Herrington have long been a source of talent for Michigan State, among them Drew Stanton and Mill Coleman.
So he knew all about Michigan State because of Herrington. And Funchess even visited Michigan State during his recruiting process along with teammates Mario Ojemudia (Michigan) and Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State).
“Some of my boys went up there, and me and Mario came here,” Funchess said. “There’s separation between our groups. We chose our school, they chose their school. Coach Herrington always pushes us to go (to Michigan State) and visit. He’s real good with coach (Mark) Dantonio.
“(My teammates) liked it. I liked it, but I didn’t feel like it was for me. It wasn’t I was trying to be different. I had other places to go, just didn’t feel like I wanted to go there.”
Now at Michigan, he has become an important piece of the offensive game plan. But against Notre Dame in Week 2, he suffered an ankle injury he reinjured the following week.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “This is not like when I first went down. It was a week to recover. I’m feeling real good. That seven-game streak was a lot on body and then a bye week helped me out a little bit.”
He said he has been focusing more on more consistent blocking after missing two in a loss at Rutgers and he has worked on hauling in passes after dropping one he felt he should have caught against Penn State. He leads the team in receiving with 36 catches for 461 yards.
Funchess, named the Big Ten tight end of the year last season, recently was ranked No. 13 on Sports Illustrated’s NFL draft board. He is a junior but could leave school after this season.
So in all likelihood, this will be Funchess’ last Michigan-Michigan State game. A year ago, in a 29-6 loss, he had 84 yards on four catches. But the game always will be remembered for Michigan’s minus-48 yards rushing and seven sacks against — and the general pummeling quarterback Devin Gardner received.
“I don’t remember the past,” Funchess said. “I just always focus on the present because you can’t go back to the past and try to change it. I just worry about the future and the person that’s here and now.”