Playing on a team with nearly 20 high-level college prospects can muddy the recruiting process, and there were times the past year that Friendship Collegiate safety Dae Juan Funderburk fixated on the thought of attending a traditional football power.
He was blasted by suitors in March, receiving scholarship offers from West Virginia, Wisconsin and Kentucky in a three-day span, and he listed he listed his top three college choices in early May as Florida State, Wisconsin and Rutgers.
At that point, Temple had not even offered Funderburk. But when Owls assistant Francis Brown visited a Friendship practice later that month and inquired about the 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety, Funderburk admitted, “I was kind of surprised. I was like ‘Wow, Temple. I would never go there,’ in my head.”
About a month later, Funderburk defied his own preconceived notions about the Philadelphia school. He committed in early July, a product of his trust in the coaching staff and the belief that the 2014 recruiting class can help the program take the next step in the Big East. Temple went 4-7 a year ago.
“They treated me good, they said they’ll take care me,” Funderburk said in a phone interview this week. “They really showed me a lot about the school, I just felt comfortable with my decision to commit.”
One of the contributing factors in Funderburk’s decision was the chance to play with a promising crop of defensive backs committed to Temple for the 2014 season, including safety Shamir Bearfield (N.J.), who Funderburk said “really told me some stuff [during his visit last month] that I didn’t know about the program and the love that he got from his end, and how our class is going to be a dominant class coming in.”
Funderburk said he will have an opportunity to start right away for the Owls. After transferring from Northwood following his sophomore season, he didn’t crack Friendship’s starting lineup until the midway point of last season – and it wasn’t until a few breakout performances against elite national competition that he won the trust of the coaching staff in the defensive backfield.
That sparked a recruiting whirlwind during the offseason, which began on Dec. 2, the day after the Knights won the inaugural DCSAA title over Dunbar. Since, Funderburk has been a key player for Friendship in passing league tournaments during the spring and summer – including last week’s title at Towson’s 7-on-7 tournament (Friendship beat Montgomery County powers Northwest and Quince Orchard en route to the win).
With fall camp just a few weeks away, that was a key moment for Funderburk and his Friendship teammates, many of whom are still pondering their college football futures. It would have been understandable for Funderburk to prolong his recruitment and weigh offers from elite programs, but Temple felt right from the moment it entered the picture late this spring, he said.
“Everybody wants to go to a school like Miami, Florida State and all the SEC schools. But it’s just about what’s good for you, what’s comfortable for you in the long run,” Funderburk said. “As their program is coming up, and me being a part of it, I won’t have a problem with that because I rather start from the bottom, build up. Get people coming in, you know, different recruits from different classes and just seeing that the program is elite. It will become elite in the future.”
Recruit Watch: The latest offers, commitments, signings