Michigan Freshmen Paying Dividends Early On For Brady Hoke

Although his team struggled against Air Force in a narrow six-point win, Michigan coach Brady Hoke was still encouraged by the play of a number of freshmen in Saturday's victory.

The second-year coach managed to send out a whopping 12 freshmen against the Falcons, but because of Michigan's lack of depth at a number of positions, he didn't have much choice. "It was by design," Hoke told ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein on Saturday. "And by necessity."

Among the most encouraging youngsters on Saturday was tight end Devin Funchess, a 6'5 athlete from Farmington Hills who was one of the stars of the afternoon with a four-catch, 106-yard performance. Funchess' leaping downfield touchdown grab also offered plenty of hope for the future of the position, athletically speaking, and the youngster seems to be a big part of the team's future plans.

"He's done a nice job," Hoke said of his first-year tight end. "He's bigger than when he got here. He did a good job at the point of attack. And he's got ability."

Also making a sizable impact of his own on the other side of the ball was true freshman linebacker Joe Bolden, a four-star recruit from Cincinnati, Ohio. Bolden recorded 10 tackles and played the entire second half for coordinator Greg Mattison's blitz-heavy defense, and figures to be in line for extended playing time at the expense of senior Kenny Demens if he can keep things going.

Be sure to stay with this StoryStream for more coverage leading up to Michigan against UMass, and head over to Maize N Brew for more news and analysis on Michigan football. Also visit SB Nation's college football hub for more coverage from around the country.

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