Trieu: Michigan hosts Detroit’s top football stars

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Donovan Peoples-Jones

Michigan has an important basketball game against Northwestern on Wednesday night as John Beilein’s Wolverines have three regular-season games left plus the Big Ten tournament to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The game will offer an opportunity for the football team to host top gridiron recruits, and there will be a contingent from the Motor City on hand.

Detroit Cass Tech juniors Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jordan Reid and Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and sophomore cornerback Kalon Gervin, all have Michigan offers and all will be in attendance.

Detroit King two-way star Ambry Thomas is another top in-state prospect who is expected to make the trip and comes in with a Michigan offer.

Peoples-Jones is currently the consensus top prospect in the state. He was the Nike Football Ratings Champion at The Opening last summer, posting the best testing results among a group of the nation’s top prospects. He had 11 touchdown receptions and three more as a punt returner last season. He holds offers from around the country, but Florida, Tennessee, Notre Dame, USC, Michigan State and Ohio State are some of the more formidable threats to the Wolverines.

Reid is the nephew of head coach Thomas Wilcher and played both sides of the ball for Cass last season, but, at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, projects to the offensive line in college. Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and several other programs have offered. Michigan just offered last week and Reid admitted it was an exciting arrival for him.

“I was very shocked and excited because it's was my first Big Ten offer and from a school in-state,” he said. “I grew up a fan of them.”

Kelly-Powell, a safety with more than 30 offers, also says he “grew up in a Michigan household.” However, Michigan State, Ohio State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and many others remain in a race he is keeping wide open.

Thomas is currently the main contender to Peoples-Jones’ claim to the top spot in the state. A fast, explosive wide receiver and cornerback, he also has a laundry list of offers to consider, including additions from Nebraska, Auburn and South Carolina this month. He says he is still wide open in his recruitment and hopes to visit schools farther from home in the coming months.

Gervin was offered by Michigan in January. Since then, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Tennessee and others have jumped on board as well and he is now at 12 total offers but says he will “definitely be considering” Michigan.

Berrien Springs (Mich.) defensive tackle Phillip Paea, who was recently offered by Michigan, will also be in attendance. Paea (6-4, 275 pounds) is one of the fastest rising recruits in the state, having added offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Oregon, Minnesota and others in the span of two weeks.

One of Michigan's 2017 commitments, Oak Park (Mich.) offensive tackle Jaraymond Hall is also expected at the game.

West Virginia OL surprised by Michigan offer

Huntington (W.Va.) junior Billy Ross, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive lineman, says he had not heard from Michigan or talked to any Wolverine coaches before his high school coach handed him a phone with offensive line coach Tim Drevno on the line, and he added a Michigan offer right then and there.

It was good timing. Ross will be training at IMG Academy when the Wolverines bring their spring practices there, so he will have a chance to see the team.

“I know it's a great school with an awesome football program. I like that I'd play in front of 100,000 people every Saturday and have one of the best coaches in the nation,” he said.

Ross has been one of the most offered players in the country the last week. In addition to Michigan, Vanderbilt, N.C. State, Miami, Louisville, Florida State, West Virginia and others all offered in the last six days.

Physical linebacker excited by Michigan offer

Oxford (Ala.) inside linebacker K.J. Britt, a physical 6-foot-1, 230-pound prospect, was offered by Michigan on Monday.

Scout analyst John Garcia said this was an offer Britt has been “waiting on for some time.”

In-state Alabama, the school he grew up watching, has not offered yet, but Garcia said they could soon and would be the top competition for the Wolverines along with Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, who have all offered.

He has not visited Michigan yet but hopes to within the next several months.

More information

Donovan Peoples-Jones profile 

Billy Ross profile

K.J. Britt profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.