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Jake Funk looks to return from injury as potential lead running back in 2020

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The redshirt senior is looking to use experience and skill to get back onto the gridiron

Jake Funk, Maryland football vs Syracuse Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Our summer profile series is back and we’re previewing Maryland football one position group at a time.

We’ve gone over wide receivers and tight ends so far, and now we are reviewing the Terps’ running backs. Lila gave an overview of the position group on Monday and today we’ll take a look at potential lead back Jake Funk.

Jake Funk, RB, No. 34

Height: 5’10
Weight: 202
Year: Redshirt junior
Hometown: Gaithersburg, Md.
High school: Damascus

2019 stats: 3 games; 17 rush, 173 yds, 2 TDs; 4 rec, 16 yds

Career stats: 31 games; 75 rush, 452 yds, 7 TDs; 13 rec, 66 yds, 2 TDs

The background

Jake Funk, a former three-star recruit, was recruited as both a safety and a running back out of high school. Out of his 13 total offers, two of them came from Power 5 schools –– Maryland and Wisconsin, per 24/7 Sports.

Funk had a sensational senior campaign at Damascus High School in 2015. He led his team to a perfect 14-0 record and the Maryland 3A State Championship title, rushing for 2,866 yards and a Maryland state record 52 touchdowns on 249 carries. After his historic season, he was named the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year, Washington Post All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, and was a co-winner of the Herman Boone High School Player of the Year award. Funk was also a two-time all-state selection.

Funk had a promising first two seasons as a Terp, playing in all 25 games and being named the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year as a sophomore. He has only played in six total games over the past two seasons, suffering ACL tears in both seasons.

Entering 2020, Funk looks to make a comeback after suffering season-ending injuries in 2018 and 2019.

How will Funk return from two injury plagued seasons?

Funk only played in three games as a junior in 2018 and suffered a torn left ACL during the game against Ohio State in mid-November. He kept the injury pretty quiet and spent the offseason recovering and was ready for the season opener in 2019, about nine and a half months later.

The Gaithersburg, Maryland, native was off to a blazing start in 2019 averaging 10.2 yards per carry through the first three games. During the third game of the season at Temple, Funk suffered another torn left ACL, which ended his season.

While being forced to go through the same process twice, Funk has remained hungry to get back on the gridiron with the Terps.

He showed his ability to return positively from an ACL tear during the first three games of 2019, rushing 17 times for 173 yards and two scores. In 2020, Funk will look to respond in a similar fashion to his second ACL tear, and mentally it might help him that he has done it once before.

Funk should play a significant role in the Terps’ backfield

Maryland’s running back position has much less depth this year than it has in recent seasons. There are only four running backs on scholarship, including Funk, senior Tayon Fleet-Davis, and freshmen Peny Boone and Isaiah Jacobs.

The running backs group in College Park was arguably one of the deepest rotations in the country last year. The Terps lost Anthony McFarland Jr. and Javon Leake to the NFL and Lorenzo Harrison III has stepped away from the game of football.

For the first time in a couple years, there is no clear lead running back. Last year it was McFarland and two seasons ago it was Ty Johnson. And while there is no indication of who will be the starting running back in 2020, Funk possesses the experience and has displayed the skill over 31 career games to potentially be the lead ball carrier.

Funk’s teammates often refer to him as “Coach Funk” because of his natural leadership skills on and off the field. There will be more distribution at the running back position this season and Funk will have to step up to clear himself from the pack to become the lead back. When completely healthy, he has shown that he is capable of this task.

Funk looks to respond in a big way as he enters his final year of eligibility coming off of two ACL tears.