UM's Funchess: I played on severely damaged toe
Ann Arbor – Devin Funchess played on a severely damaged right toe all of last season, his final at Michigan before declaring for the NFL, but it wasn't diagnosed until he began training for the draft.
Funchess, along with former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, on Saturday participated in a two-hour autograph session at the M Den on State Street, signing items for about 300 fans. Both are in the midst training locally for the NFL draft.
In the second game of the season last year at Notre Dame, Funchess suffered the injury that hindered him the rest of the season. He had nine catches for 107 yards in the blowout loss in South Bend.
"I had a real bad injury in my toe, and I wasn't that explosive and probably wasn't all the way there going into my training," Funchess told a small group of reporters. "I couldn't control any of that. I fought through it the whole season. No one really knew about it. You guys thought it was an ankle. It was (about) fighting through that just for the team."
Funchess described a mangled mess in the foot.
"I tore a ligament, cracked some bones off and ruptured some cartilage," he said. "I didn't even know what happened to me."
He did not play the next game against Miami (Ohio) but said he took a pain-killing shot so he could play against Utah.
"I felt like the team needed me to come back, because the Miami of Ohio game wasn't what I wanted to see," Funchess said. "Utah, came back, tried to do my best and reinjured it in the beginning of the game. I just kept fighting through it, though."
Funchess said he endures some pain even now when walking on it. He is not yet 100 percent, but he does not require surgery and expects to soon be fully healthy.
"It's a mindset," he said. "I feel it but I don't feel it because I don't want to care about it. I'm not 100 percent now, but it doesn't matter because I know how to play without being 100 percent."
Funchess finished his junior season with 62 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns.
The 6-foot-5 Funchess said he has spoken to all but three NFL teams and had a private workout with the Falcons. He will make pre-draft visits next week, and most conversations have been about him playing wideout – he began his Michigan career as a tight end. He has been working out with Gardner and Oregon's Dior Mathis, who is from Detroit Cass Tech.
He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash during the recent Michigan pro day, an improvement over the 4.75 he ran at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Funchess said without a track background, he found himself overthinking his running.
Initially, most draft analysts projected Funchess a first-round selection. More recently, though, he has dropped to the second. He said he doesn't pay attention to any of the draft speculation.
He said he feels confident about his future and has set the bar high.
"I think I can be one of the greatest," Funchess said, when asked how good he thinks he can be. "It's just a mindset and your work ethic you put into it. It's all on me. I'm giving it all."