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Academics, Harbaugh drew Peoples-Jones to Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Detroit Cass Tech star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, the No. 1 player in the state, said Michigan’s academics and coach Jim Harbaugh were among the main reasons he will be joining the Wolverines.

Peoples-Jones, long considered a strong Michigan lean during the recruiting process, chose Michigan despite late pushes by Ohio State and Florida State. Michigan State and Florida also were among his five finalists.

With the five helmets of those schools before him at a table, he ended the pins-and-needles wait for fans and revealed his decision by placing a Michigan hat on his head Thursday night on ESPN2. He plans to enroll early.

“Michigan fit every need that I wanted coming into college,” said Peoples-Jones, flanked by his parents during the ESPN2 interview. “First was academics. Everyone knows about Michigan for academics, and it’s a lot I have planned for me there and a lot that awaits me in the future. Secondly, I want to play with the best. I believe Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in college football, and I really think he can (shape) me into the receiver I want to be. And third, I wanted to be in a comfortable environment. I really don’t feel any college town is better than Ann Arbor, and I’m ready to go to the University of Michigan.”

Peoples-Jones made an official visit to Michigan last weekend, and just before the start of the dead period Ohio State squeezed in a home visit last Sunday in a snowstorm.

“My last official visit to the University of Michigan pretty much sealed everything,” Peoples-Jones said on ESPN2. “I have a chance to do very special things there, I believe. I think that it was the best decision for me and my family.”

The Cass Tech standout, who helped lead the team to a 14-0 record and a Division 1 state championship, had 60 catches for 1,064 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also played on defense and had four interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.

“He was a great team player, showed up every day and worked hard, just wanted to compete and be the best,” Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher recently told The Detroit News. Wilcher, who played for the Wolverines, joyfully embraced Peoples-Jones after the announcement.

Peoples-Jones’ father is a physician, and his son has made it clear he would like to follow in those footsteps.

“Michigan has the best medical school of all my college choices, that’s very easy,” he said Thursday night. “Football-wise it was very hard, a very tough decision. I want to respect all the coaches who recruited me and all the schools who took the time to have me at their camps.

“I couldn’t really choose football. I had to choose something deeper than that, and it was academics. Academics will take me way past my football career.”

He said he will pursue a pre-med curriculum.

“After hopefully my football career I want to go back to med school and be a sports medicine surgeon,” Peoples-Jones said.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Peoples-Jones is the second receiver in two days to commit to Michigan. Four-star receiver Tarik Black, a 6-foot-4, 208-pounder from Cheshire, Conn., committed on Wednesday. Brad Hawkins, a three-star receiver, also is expected to be part of the 2017 class.

The Wolverines now have 22 commitments for the 2017 class. Peoples-Jones joins Cass Tech teammate Jaylen Kelly-Powell, a four-star safety, in the Michigan class.

Now Michigan awaits word the next few days from a couple of coveted prospects.

Five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson (6-7, 350), who originally planned to announce next week, will reveal his decision on Friday around noon. Cesar Ruiz (6-3, 315), the No. 1-rated center from IMG Academy, plans to announce Monday.