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Michigan's Devin Funchess scores 3 TDs in season opener

Tony Ding/Associated Press
The transition of Michigan's Devin Funchess from tight end to wide receiver will be scrutinized this season.

Michigan's Devin Funchess officially has moved to wide receiver from tight end, and his first game at his new position was a good one.

Funchess (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), a junior, had seven receptions for 95 yards and three TDs in a 52-14 rout of Appalachian State, which was playing its first game as a FBS member. All three of Funchess' touchdowns came in the first half, which ended with the Wolverines leading 35-0.

The last time the teams met, Appalachian State famously came away with a 34-32 win in 2007. Michigan gave them no chance Saturday, with Devin Gardner hitting Funchess for two TDs in the opening period, and the Wolverines cruised from there.

Funchess was listed as a tight end last season even though he played more and more wide receiver as the season progressed; still, he was voted the Big Ten's Tight End of the Year and also was one of eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. This season, all pretense of being a tight end is gone. His size, athleticism and speed (reportedly in the 4.5 range) will appeal to NFL scouts, who will be looking to see how Funchess handles playing outside all season. He can physically overpower cornerbacks, but his route-running could be a concern.

He caught 49 passes last season, and his single-game high in receptions was seven -- which he tied Saturday. Funchess will be Michigan's go-to receiver this fall, and he and Gardner -- who was 13-of-14 for 173 yards and the three TDs -- looked in sync against App State, whose secondary was an issue heading into the season. It also helped Gardner that the running game, which was an embarrassment last season, came up huge Saturday: 350 yards, with two tailbacks (sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith) reaching the 100-yard plateau.

Things should be tougher next week, when the Wolverines play at Notre Dame.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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