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After an injury-plagued 2018, Jake Funk looks to return and contribute for Maryland football

Finishing our Running Backs Week profiles with a versatile veteran.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

We’re previewing Maryland football’s roster one position group at a time this summer. This week, we’re focusing on the running backs, which should be the Terps’ strongest position group in 2019.

Thomas profiled projected starter Anthony McFarland on Tuesday, I looked at Javon Leake on Wednesday and Justin broke down Tayon Fleet-Davis and Lorenzo Harrison on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Today, I’m taking a look at fan favorite Jake Funk, who, like Harrison, is hoping to make a comeback from injury.

Jake Funk, RB, No. 34

Height: 5’11
Weight: 202
Year: Redshirt junior
Hometown: Gaithersburg, Md.
High school: Damascus

2018 stats: 2 rush, -2 yds; 1 rec, 4 yds
Career stats: 58 rush, 279 yds, 5 TDs; 9 rec, 50 yds, 2 TDs

The background

Funk was recruited as a three-star prospect out of high school, ranking as the No. 35 player in Maryland and the No. 90 running back in the nation. However, his accolades outweighed his recruiting stature. As a senior at football powerhouse Damascus, Funk was named the 2015 Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year as well as the Washington Post All-Met Offensive Player of the Year, thanks to 2,866 yards and 52 touchdowns on 249 carries.

Despite his success in high school, Funk wasn’t awarded the same type of workload to begin his collegiate career. Sitting behind Ty Johnson, Javon Leake and Lorenzo Harrison on the depth chart limited his workload with the first-team offense, but he was productive in the opportunities he was afforded. As a freshman and sophomore, Funk carried the ball 56 times for 281 yards (5.02 yards per carry) with five touchdowns. He also showed some prowess in the passing game, hauling in eight catches for 46 yards and two scores.

Funk’s 2018 season was essentially lost to injury.

The junior received three touches in the season-opening win over Texas before breaking his hand, which kept him out until November. He appeared in the last two games of the season, but touched the ball just once. There was a silver lining to the injury, though, as Funk was able to take a redshirt and retain his third year of eligibility (new NCAA rules dictate a player can take a redshirt if they appear in four or fewer games).

He’ll return facing an uphill battle for his share of carries. While Funk spent time on the shelf, Anthony McFarland established himself as the leading man of the running back room. Ty Johnson may be gone, but Javon Leake and Tayon Fleet-Davis shined in their opportunities as well. Throw Lorenzo Harrison III back into the mix, and suddenly there may be too many talented players for the available snaps.

His versatility should still earn him opportunities.

Funk’s chances have been limited in a crowded backfield, but he’s been a successful change-of-pace weapon in the backfield to spell the leading rushers. He’s been a valued pass-catcher as a checkdown option for the ever-rotating carousel of quarterbacks. Funk has a knack for finding the end zone as well, scoring seven times on just 67 career touches. He’s also set himself apart on special teams, being utilized on both the kickoff and kick return teams as a gunner and blocker, respectively, in his Maryland career.

Since arriving in College Park, Funk has always found a way to get on the field, whether it’s in short-yardage situations or lending his athleticism to special teams (he was Maryland’s 2017 special teams player of the year). Last season was ultimately a lost one for Funk, but if he can continue to make himself indispensable, he’ll get chances under the new regime.