DETROIT — The Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy has helped hundreds of high school football players get noticed by college coaches since it was created in 2004.

This is also true for Carolina Panthers wide receiver and former Michigan football player Devin Funchess.

Funchess had participated in multiple SMSB camps as a high schooler, and credits them for helping him pique interest from college programs and learn more about football.

“I grew up with this camp,” Funchess said. “I made my mark here. I’m seeing everybody I used to train with.”

Because of its importance to Funchess, he came back to this year’s camp on his own accord to give back to a program that helped him out so much. He was helping the wide receivers run routes, offering advice and cheering them on. 

“I love seeing the young talent,” Funchess said. “It brings me back memories of how I did. I want to make sure these kids get that opportunity. I tried to make a name for myself and do things right.

“We all came back because of the teaching, not for recruiting. It’s thinking, ‘Oh that’s a D1 coach teaching me this,’ and they’re going to show you what to do.”

SMSB’s influence has affected more than just its alumni, though. Another former Wolverine, Mike Hart, who is currently the running back’s coach at Syracuse, spoke of the camp’s significance for himself and the players who are brought together in one camp.

“It’s great,” Hart said. “That’s what football is, it’s bringing people together. Different social, cultural, economic backgrounds, it doesn’t matter. This is my sixth year coming to (SMSB). The talent is getting better and better every year. There’s a lot of talent here in Michigan.”

Some current Michigan football players also helped out with the camp, including senior defensive back Jourdan Lewis and junior wide receiver Moe Ways. 

Not every athlete who participates in SMSB may make the NFL or even receive a college scholarship offer, but its power to bring athletes together and learn from professional coaches and players has clearly left lasting impressions.

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