Ex-UM player Funchess ready to jump through NFL hoops
Indianapolis — Former Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess doesn't seem to care whether NFL teams consider him a receiver or tight end.
"I call myself a ballplayer," he said Thursday at the NFL combine.
And apparently, Funchess nearly had an opportunity to play a different kind of ball.
During his podium interview at the combine, Funchess answered a question about a video he posted on Instagram of him dunking, and eventually, the interview session evolved into a story of when John Beilein asked him to join the Michigan basketball team.
"He tried to get me when I was a freshman," Funchess said. "He kind of saw me in the gym one day and tried to get me on the team. … Him and another coach asked me if I wanted to try out, but they knew coach (Brady) Hoke wouldn't have it."
Funchess said he thought Beilein's brief pitch for him to walk on to the team was serious, and he thinks he has serious basketball skills. The 6-foot-4, 232-pound Funchess said he played hoops through sophomore year at Farmington Hills Harrison before committing more time to football.
The time away, though, didn't limit Funchess's confidence as he said he regularly played pick-up basketball with some Wolverines. He also said he played one-on-one against current guard Caris LeVert and some other young players, but didn't fare so well because it was right after football season.
Based on the video, though, Funchess' strong suit on the basketball court is his leaping ability, which he displayed in the Instagram post with his head elevating above the rim on one jump.
"Glenn Robinson (III) used to go to Michigan, and he always joked and said he's more athletic and all that," Funchess said. "Then his boy Zach LaVine he won the (NBA) dunk contest, and I felt like I could've been in the dunk contest. And I did that dunk like a week before the dunk contest. I just wanted to put it up, so I put it up."
The video made waves on social media, but Funchess said NFL teams hadn't yet brought it up during interviews at the combine. The skill, of course, translates to the NFL as a 6-foot-4 receiver who can jump as high as Funchess can is extremely valuable.
Many draft analysts expect Funchess to be a first-round pick, but he said he just hopes to land with a team. And as he moves on to the NFL, those hoop dreams will become an increasingly distant memory, but he would've taken the opportunity to play for Michigan if it was real.
"Basketball, that's another one of my loves, so I probably would've just to compete on the collegiate level," he said.