June 24, 2016
ANN ARBOR – Donovan Peoples-Jones earned an invitation to the Nike The Opening Finals before his junior season, then showed why.
The Detroit Cass Tech 2017 five-star wide receiver became the first incoming junior in the event’s history to win the Rating Championship and he has every intention of repeating.
“I definitely want to win again,” the Michigan target said during the Sound Mind Sound Body camp on June 9 in Detroit. “I won it last year, I don’t see why I don’t have a shot at it this year.”
Peoples-Jones won the title with a score of 149.49 after posting a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.00 in the 20-yard agility shuttle, a kneeling powerball toss of 43.5 feet and a 42.4-inch vertical leap. Returning to The Opening Finals, which will take place July 5-10 in Beaverton, Ore., and feature 166 of the top recruits in the nation, is a significant event for Peoples-Jones.
“It’s a really big deal,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron. When I’m competing against the best I pick up on the little things. You’ve got to pay attention to the little things and it’s the little things that separate you.”
Peoples-Jones, 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, is the top player in the state, the No. 1 receiver and No. 6 recruit overall in the 2017 class, according to 247 Sports Composite rankings. He has offers from more than two dozen schools, including Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, Florida and Ohio State. All five were included in a top 10 he released on Twitter in January. He’s since altered that top 10 but isn’t ready to share it.
“I do have a top 10,” he said. “I posted a top 10 a couple months ago. It’s pretty close to that.”
The criteria Peoples-Jones has for picking a school is based on three factors.
“Academics, No. 1,” he said. “No. 2, I want to compete with the best and, No. 3, I want to be comfortable in my environment.”
Peoples-Jones’ father is an orthopedic surgeon and he plans on studying sports medicine in college. His interest in Michigan revolves around academics and coach Jim Harbaugh.
“Michigan is a great school, they’ve always been a great school,” Peoples-Jones said. “They have great history, great tradition. Harbaugh is doing a great job up there right now bringing in some of the top recruits. He definitely knows what NFL talent is like, having so much experience in the league, and I think that’s what Michigan brings to the table.”
Commitments from down South: Michigan hosted camps in Ann Arbor last weekend and they paid off as the Wolverines received a pair of commitments from players who were on campus. Aubrey Solomon and Otis Reese, teammates at Lee County High School in Georgia, both committed to Michigan on Saturday. Solomon is a four-star recruit and the No. 6 defensive tackle in the 2017 class, according to 247 Sports. His commitment came as a surprise, given that he has offers from Alabama, Georgia and Auburn, among others. Reese, a 2018 recruit, is the No. 11 safety and No. 117 player overall in his class.
Michigan vs. Alabama: Michigan’s camps last weekend led to a pair of four-star recruits squaring off in the Big House. Nico Collins, a four-star wide receiver from Clay-Chalkville High School in Alabama, went toe-to-toe with Ambry Thomas, a four-star cornerback from Detroit Martin Luther King High School. Both are among Michigan’s top 2017 targets.
Five-star recruiter: Dylan McCaffrey is a five-star prospect and the No. 2 pro-style quarterback of the 2017 class who is committed to Michigan. He took part in Michigan’s “Aerial Assault” camp last Saturday and, in addition to running through the drills, was working on securing future teammates, especially Collins. They talked and were planning on getting dinner together. “I’m trying my best,” McCaffrey said with a smile. “I’ve been talking with Nico and his family (today), and we’ve got a long night (ahead) so I’m looking forward to (spending more time with him). The whole package at Michigan (sells itself). This place has so much to offer. You can go here and get so much out of just four years. You have football, you can get an education, find a career and get some of the best coaching in the world while playing in front of some of the best fans in the world.”
Interest and more: L’Christian Smith, a 2018 four-star receiver from Wayne High School in Ohio, is interested in Michigan and said the main reason is Harbaugh. Anthony McFarland Jr., a 2017 four-star running back from DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland, released a top 10 that included Michigan. Robert Hainsey, a four-star guard from IMG Academy in Florida, named a top three of Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame and said he’ll make his commitment during The Opening Finals. Toryque Bateman, a three-star offensive tackle from Gadsden City High School in Alabama, tweeted that Michigan and Tennessee are his top two schools right now. Darnay Holmes, a five-star cornerback from Calabasas High School in California, told Rivals.com that Michigan is one of the three schools that will be in his five official visits. Kendall Randolph, a four-star offensive tackle from Bob Jones High School in Alabama, placed Michigan in his top five, less than two weeks after having the Wolverines in his top seven.