Heading into a 2014 season with increased team expectations, Michigan football will have two names on the Maxwell Award Watch List in junior wide receiver Devin Funchess and senior quarterback Devin Gardner.
The Maxwell Award has been handed out annually to America’s College Football Player of the Year, dating all the way back to 1937.
For Funchess, the news comes on the heels of a breakout sophomore campaign after officially making the switch to wide receiver, originally arriving in Ann Arbor as a tight end, winning the Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year in 2013.
Last season Funchess caught 49 passes for 748-yards with six touchdowns and dating back to his freshman season in 2012 has recorded at least one catch in each of his last 14 games.
Heading into 2013 Devin Gardner was considered one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the country but the season ended up being far more trying than many anticipated.
Gardner struggled with turnovers and consistency finishing the season honorable-mention All-Big Ten after compiling 32 total touchdowns and 3,000 total yards of offense. Passing, Gardner threw 21 touchdowns next to 11 interceptions completing 208-of-345 throws for 2,960-yards.
Gardner also set Michigan single game records in a 63-47 win over Indiana, tallying 503-yards through the air and 584-yards in total.
Not receiving much help from his offensive line, Gardner was sacked 23 times over a five game span in November, including back-to-back seven sack performances in losses to Michigan State and Nebraska.
Following the 2013 season Michigan announced the firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges, hiring former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to the same position.
Heading into 2014, Gardner will have competition behind him on the depth chart in returning sophomore Shane Morris and true freshman Wilton Speight, but is believed to be the starter when the Wolverines open up the season against Appalachian State at home on Aug. 30.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced on Nov. 3, followed by the release of three finalists on Nov. 24, with the winner introduced on Dec. 11.
Gardner and Funchess are two of 10 Big Ten players on the watch list.