What followed the announcement became the real story.
Funchess reeled in a touchdown pass from Devin Gardner on Michigan’s first offensive series and found the end zone two more times in the first half to set a program record for touchdown catches in a season opener.
“They kind of bracketed me,” Funchess said afterward on his first touchdown catch. “I had a little out and up and then I split them.”
Funchess would finish his day with seven catches for 95-yards and three touchdowns, excited to be out on the field.
“It was great,” Funchess said. “I was just happy to get back out there on the field. It’s been 12 long months since game one against Central last year. So, I was just happy to be back out there in the big house with 106,000 today.”
While it certainly appeared Funchess was being targeted quite a bit more than other Michigan wide outs, the soft spoken sophomore begged to differ.
“I just happen to be open, he just gives me the ball,” Funchess said. “He just looks for the open player.
“That’s what Coach Nussmeier always says, look for the open player and then just give him the ball.”
Not since Braylon Edwards in 2005 had a Michigan wide receiver stepped on the field wearing the No. 1 jersey.
For Funchess, who a year ago was still listed as a tight end on Michigan’s roster and awarded the No. 87 jersey of former Michigan great Ron Kramer, the idea to switch to No. 1 came with some tasks to complete first.
“The young man asked me about it and I said that’s fine,” Hoke said. “I said call a member of the Kramer family and ask them and that’s what he did. Ron Kramer may have been the best player every to play here, best athlete to ever play here and so he talked to Kurt, his son.
“And Devin being more of a wide receiver now obviously, that’s what he thought he wanted to do. And believe me I asked him who has worn number one and he started with Anthony Carter and went down the list so I think, he earned it.”
Here’s Funchess’ statement prior to the game:
“It was an incredible honor to be selected to wear the number 87 Legends Jersey in honor of Ron Kramer,” Funchess said. “I spoke with his son, Kurt, and many of my teammates before I decided to change my number and they were all unbelievably supportive.
“Ron Kramer was the best tight end in Michigan history, and I think his number should be worn by someone playing that position.
“Moving strictly to wide receiver, I watched a lot of Michigan greats over the offseason and kept seeing receivers wearing number 1 making plays, from Anthony Carter to Derrick Alexander, David Terrell and Braylon Edwards, and I wanted to carry on another Michigan tradition this season.”
Funchess was a load all day for Appalachian State showing consistency catching the football in short quick routes gaining yards after the catch, even plucking his third touchdown out of the air over two challenging defenders.
After a showing like Saturday Brady Hoke added moving forward opponents could look to neutralize or double team Funchess in the secondary.
“He’s definitely someone you need to pay attention to,” Hoke said. “And I think as the year goes on and as he keeps working, as he keeps learning, as he keeps developing, I think maybe more people will put a corner, bracket him a little, put a corner over top of him, safety over the top.
“But then that helps Chesson, that helps Darboh and it helps Norfleet and those other guys.”