Trieu: Hard to overstate importance of Peoples-Jones to Michigan

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Donovan Peoples-Jones

A report was released Sunday that included a rumor that Detroit Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was down to Florida State and Ohio State. Although the author himself stated numerous times that he did not believe the rumor himself, that did little to stem the reactions of anger and confusion from Michigan fans on social media and message boards.

That is because Peoples-Jones is as important of a recruit for Michigan as the Wolverines have had in recent years, for a variety of reasons.

First, he is an in-state kid, a Detroit kid, a Cass Tech kid, and every school wants to sign the top recruit in their home state.

Beyond that, though, he is a kid Michigan has been the perceived leader for throughout. A brilliant student, he has aspirations of attending medical school and his father, who is a doctor, is a Michigan alum. While he has not publicly commented on it, Peoples-Jones did an internship at a University of Michigan hospital in the summer.

All of those positive factors for the Wolverines in this recruitment would make it all the more painful for Maize and Blue faithful should he choose the Seminoles, Buckeyes or another program.

It would recall ghosts of Ronald Johnson, Sean Parker and Laquon Treadwell, all five-star recruits who appeared to be headed to Michigan or had Michigan in the lead at one time or another, only to eventually commit elsewhere.

Treadwell is part of a line of top receiver recruits who the Wolverines were in the final group for but did not land. While Michigan has had some outstanding wide receivers come through the program recently, that is one position where they have seemed to narrowly miss on elite prospects.

The Wolverines have young receiver talent on the roster. Eddie McDoom and Dylan Crawford played as true freshmen this season, and Grant Perry, Drake Harris and Maurice Ways bring experience back. But with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson headed to the NFL, receiver is certainly a position where there is opportunity for someone to step in and step up, and Peoples-Jones, an early enrollee, would have the skills and intangibles to do that.

A coach on the Cass Tech staff called Peoples-Jones “the most extraordinary student-athlete I have ever been around” and a “once every three or four decades kid.” That is at a school that produces double-digit college athletes every year.

Michigan stars finalizing recruiting decisions

Michigan had him on an official visit all weekend and on Sunday night, just before the dead period began and colleges could not visit recruits in-person any longer, Ohio State had several coaches make their way through a winter storm to have an in-home visit with Peoples-Jones.

He has earned the opportunity to be recruited at that level because of his performance on the field and his excellence in the classroom.

On Thursday, he makes his commitment. The popular prediction remains Michigan, but until the words come out of his mouth, Wolverine fans will wait with bated breath.

Week of commitments

In addition to Peoples-Jones, several Michigan targets will be making their decisions this week. Cheshire (Conn.) Academy wide receiver Tarik Black announces on Wednesday afternoon with Michigan the expected choice.

People-Jones is Thursday and highly-ranked Brooklyn (N.Y.) Poly Prep offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson announces Friday. On Monday, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy center Cesar Ruiz announces his decision and teammate Jordan Anthony, a four-star linebacker, announces the following Thursday.

Michigan is considered a top school or the top school for all five.

More information

Donovan Peoples-Jones profile

Tarik Black profile 

Isaiah Wilson 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.