As then-senior Damascus High School, running back Jake Funk put together one of the most impressive offensive seasons in state history two years ago — racking up a state record 52 rushing touchdowns — former Maryland football offensive coordinator Mike Locksley showed interest in signing the local prospect.
Then-coach Randy Edsall overruled Locksley and the rest of the Terps’ staff by refusing to sign him. But when Maryland dismissed Edsall six games into the 2015 season, the Terps extended Funk an offer just two days later.
“Coming here,” Funk said, “it felt like home.”
While fellow running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison offer more speed, Funk has carved out a role as Maryland’s short-yardage runner.
Funk delivered two fourth-quarter touchdowns on Saturday against Indiana. He’s scored on more than 25 percent of his touches this season, displaying the power running skill set he perfected at Damascus, when the team’s offensive approach forced him to find small rushing lanes.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell compared Funk to former Terps running back Kenneth Goins, who at 233 pounds racked up eight career touchdowns in College Park. Bell said Funk’s ability to hunt open space once he takes the ball, paired with his physicality, helps him excel in the goal-line situations Johnson and Harrison typically aren’t on the field for.
“It’s very instinctual,” Funk said. “You find a crease somewhere and puncture the crease and gain a yard or however many yards you need.”
Soon after Locksley finished the 2015 season as Maryland’s interim coach, DJ Durkin replaced him. Despite the absence of the man who led his recruitment, Funk continued to feel welcome with the Terps.
One day after Damascus won the Maryland 3A state championship, Funk received a text from Durkin, who told him to bring his family in for a chat. During the meeting, Durkin asked Funk to enroll early so he could get a head start with the program.
“There was no question whether they wanted me,” Funk said.
Durkin has continued to show faith in Funk amid a loaded backfield. In addition to short-yardage carries, Funk is used in all areas of special teams. He also practiced on defense during the spring.
So, even though Funk’s the third choice at running back, Durkin envisions an expanded role in the future.
“He’s one of those guys you could probably pull aside right now and talk to him about another position you want him to play,” Durkin said. “Just tell him, and he’ll go out there and do it and look pretty good doing it.”