DAMASCUS, Md. -- The No. 3 team in Maryland, Damascus, laid a beatdown on visiting Magruder (Rockville, Md.) Oct. 23, 49-18. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout Hornets’ running back Jake Funk, who committed to the Terps in mid-October. Funk finished with over 250 yards of total offense, including four touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving, one punt return score).
Our take on his game, in addition to an interview, are below:
A day after Damascus (Md.) running back Jake Funk racked up four scores and totaled more than 250 yards of total offense, he trekked up to Baltimore, Md., for his first look at the Terps since his sophomore year. The senior Funk, who committed to Maryland Oct. 16, watched UMD fall to Penn State, 31-30, in M&T Bank Stadium. A day later, the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, along with his parents, visited College Park, Md., for an initial campus tour and coach sit-down.
“I can definitely say I made the right choice in Maryland,” said Funk, who chose the Terps over Ivy League offers, in addition to ODU, Army, Navy, Ohio, Bucknell and others. “After being around the team the last two days, I’m just excited to be a Terp and can’t wait to get there. There’s a bright, bright future in College Park.”
While Funk didn’t get to see a Maryland victory in interim head coach Mike Locksley’s first game, he still enjoyed himself in Baltimore. Funk said he spent most of his time with fellow pledges Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) and KeAndre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.).
“I mean the game atmosphere was unmatched. It was crazy, so loud,” Funk said. “We [Maryland] turned the ball over a little too much, but it was still a good game. Then I was sitting next to Dwayne and KeAndre, and we’re all just hyped about Maryland and excited to get to College Park. Both those guys were talking about the big things we can do there.”
The Damascus product said he took particular note of Terps’ running back Brandon Ross, as well as the UMD offense. Funk said he has a good idea of how he’ll be used in the Terps’ offense and believes Locksley – provided he’s on staff – will take advantage of his skills.
“I paid attention to Ross a lot at the game, and then the next day I got to actually meet him and the rest of the guys,” said Funk, who can also play linebacker but insisted he’s being brought in as a running back. “They’re all great guys and they welcomed me in. They’re really easy to get along with and I can tell it’s a great atmosphere down there.”
Indeed, Funk hadn’t really had an in-depth look at Maryland prior to his Oct. 25 campus stay. He was previously at an UMD-Boston College game two years ago, but other than watching the Terps fall to the Eagles, he didn’t see much of the school, nor did he interact with the staff.
“The academic advisors weren’t there unfortunately, but I got the campus tour, the football tour and I sat down with the coaches. Definitely sitting down with the coaches and seeing how they coached the team was the best part,” Funk said. “Coach Richardson, I spent a lot of time with him. He was just saying how well I fit in and he really likes my game. He said there’s five phases he looks for in a running back, and he believes I do a good job in many of those phases – vision, catching, running the ball, pass blocking and run blocking.
“And I love Coach Locks too. He’s the definition of a players’ coach. He cares so much about his players and he’s very honest too, which I love. He told me the scholarships for the commits will be honored, and I was real happy about that. Then he also is completely honest with guys on the team. So if they’re not playing, he tells them why they’re not playing. He doesn’t sugarcoat things.
“I also talked to Coach [Chad] Wilt. He’s been recruiting me for awhile now, and we have a great relationship. I didn’t really sit down with him [Oct. 25], but we have a really cool relationship. It’s a lot of, ‘Hey, how’s it going? What’s up?’”
Funk offered up high praise for the campus, the facilities and the facility upgrades as well. He called College Park “beautiful,” and said New Cole and the other facility improvements are “going to be awesome.”
“They definitely do a lot to support the football players in terms of living, dining and just everything,” Funk said. “It’s an awesome place to live.”
Apparently Funks’ parents were also taken by the school. He said both his mother and father complimented the UMD staff, as well as Maryland itself.
“My mom and dad loved it there,” said Funk, who will likely return to UMD for its game against Wisconsin Nov. 7. “They said it’s a great opportunity for me, and they’re very comfortable with me going there. They're excited, and I'm very excited too.”
A rugged runner with some athleticism, quickness and nastiness to his game, Funk has the upside of a quality Big Ten back, projecting as a short-yardage runner or a fullback.
Physically, the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder has a sturdy build, complete with a muscle-strewn frame. He possesses a stout, thick base and a developed upper-body, with room to add even more bulk if needed.
On the field, Funk’s a tough customer who runs with a mean streak. He’s the type who looks to inflict pain on impact. Rather than absorbing a hit, Funk seeks contact and plows right through.
At the snap, Funk fires forward and immediately looks to get downhill. A powerful runner, Funk’s tough to tackle, regardless if defenders hit him high or below the waste. He runs low and hard, mostly keeping compact as he hits the hole. In that way, the Damascus product limits his strike area, making him more difficult to wrap up with a mere arm tackle.
What’s more, Funk drives from his base, chops his feet after contact and runs with a forward lean, which helps shake off the initial hit; push the pile; and sometimes pop out the back side of said pile. His running style allows him to maintain balance, keeping upright if defenders attempt to take out his legs.
Funk also displays above-average field vision, actively identifying and anticipating gaps. He reads his blocks well, stays patient and then dashes to daylight. He’s not a cutback runner, but Funk does a good job setting up his linemen and then following them.
Although Funk is a bigger back, he shows solid athleticism and even some shiftiness. He can sidestep defenders in space, leap over would-be tacklers who go for his ankles, and even throw in a juke every now and again.
Funk’s fast enough to burst into the second level and get to the edge before turning the corner too. In the open, he can beat linebackers to a spot; plant his foot; and then motor by them.
When flaring out for a pass, Funk shows soft, natural hands. He ably catches the ball, quickly cradling it in and seamlessly moving upfield. Some high school backs hesitate after hauling in passes, but Funk takes them in stride and keeps motoring.
On top of that, Funk’s not a bad blocker. He has the ability to drive the defender backwards.
But while Funk has many marketable qualities, there are some areas where he’s limited. Mostly, he lacks downfield, breakaway speed. While Funk isn’t often caught from behind in high school, he doesn’t quite have the burst and acceleration to become a home-run hitter in the FBS.
Speaking of acceleration, we’d like to see Funk develop even more short-area quicks. It takes him a tick too long to slice through gaps, which, in the Big Ten, is the difference between getting stuffed and busting up to the second line of defense.
Furthermore, Funk’s change-of-direction speed could use some work. He loses velocity when he’s forced to stop and then start, which means he could have trouble creating yards in the open field. It would behoove Funk to become crisper with his cuts too. Not every back is a cutback runner (Funk’s not), but they still need to be able to shift their weight, maintain momentum and continue accelerating forward.
And while Funk can get to the edge, he lacks notable lateral speed or agility. He does well enough running straight ahead, but when he has to bounce outside he tends to lose a step or two.
Also, Funk has to get skinnier in the holes and become more elusive if he’s going to be a feature back. While he mostly stays compact, Funk’s not going to slide by defenders without defter, lighter feet and looser hips. Fact is, Funk is not an ankle breaker or a one-cut-and-go type.
It would help expand Funk’s all-around game if he continued developing his route running too. While he’s a solid receiver overall, he doesn’t have many opportunities other than an occasional screen or flare out. He’ll need to become even crisper, while learning how to release off a block; position himself in the flat; and become an outlet for his quarterback.
Furthermore, Funk could stand to improve his hand placement when blocking as well. Funk typically holds up at the point of attack, but he has to make sure he strikes underneath the pads and consistently gains leverage. He also has to do a better job in blitz pickup.
Last but not least, Funk has to keep building up his body, especially if he’s going to be a fullback or short-yardage back. He’s 205 pounds now, but may need to get up to 220 before he’s ready to contribute in College Park.-->