Big-time colleges calling, but Corley focused on state title

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Donnie Corley

Detroit — Donnie Corley put his ability on display last season for Detroit King, showing he is an impact player on both sides of the ball and earning a spot on The Detroit News Dream Team.

One year later, Corley is The Detroit News' No. 1 player in the state. The 6-foot-2, 187-pound receiver/cornerback had 62 receptions for 1,100 yards and 16 TDs last season to help King win its first eight games, before setbacks to Cass Tech in the Detroit PSL title game and to Southfield in the opening round of the Division 2 state playoffs.

Corley also intercepted 11 passes, returning seven for TDs. And Corley got ready for his senior season by working to get off the line quicker to do more damage.

"I really worked on getting stronger, got in the weight room to get myself bigger so it's easier for me to get off the line," he said. "I was like maxing out at 185 (on bench press) last year and I'm now at 295.

"We really want to win the state championship this season, that's our main goal. I'm not really worried about my stats or anything like that. I just want to go out a state champion."

Corley and King will have a chance to open some eyes quickly, playing defending Division 2 state champion Warren De La Salle in the season opener Aug. 29 at Wayne State University.

"Like my coach always says, to be the champ you have to beat the champ," he said, "so we want to prove to everyone in the state that we can play. We're going to go out there and play and play hard."

Corley is being recruited by numerous national powers, with offers coming from Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and West Virginia.

"He's a great kid, very easy to coach," King coach Dale Harvel said. "We'll be putting him in a lot of different situations. We want to get the ball in his hands and let him use that 4.5 speed."

King junior Ambry Thomas, a four-star cornerback, also has high praise for Corley, saying: "Donnie has taught me a lot, teaches me things all the time so I can get to his level."

It's been a busy summer for Corley, but he's still managed to work on King's passing game with sophomore quarterback El Julian Jordan, who replaces Mikale Washington (1,839 yards, 27 TDs, four INTs). Washington transferred out of state.

"It's pretty much been all football," said Corley of his summer. "I went to the 5-Star Challenge, The Opening, went to a lot of camps -- Ohio State, Michigan State, Sound Mind Sound Body, and some other events (BBQ at The Big House, MSU's first practice).

"It's been a lot, but if you want to make it, you just have to grind."

The Opening is an invitation-only camp for elite recruits in Oregon.

"I just like competing and had the chance to go against some of the top guys, great players who are just as good as you and maybe better, so you can really see where you stand in the country," Corley said of The Opening. "I played offense at that camp and had fun."

Corley transferred to King from Wyandotte after his sophomore year and has been somewhat surprised by the boost in his recruiting stock after one outstanding campaign in 2014.

"I'm surprised a little bit, but I've put in a lot of work since seventh, eighth grade," he explained. "I went to every camp, went to Sound Mind Sound Body in eighth grade, playing against seniors, and it's all about just getting better and better every year."

Corley did manage to have some fun with his teammates earlier this month, playing laser tag.

"We have a lot of transfers (Lavert Hill from Cass Tech, Armani Posey from East English, Martell Pettaway from St. Clair Shores South Lake, Lawrence Bryant from Grosse Pointe North), so it gave us a chance to jell together," Corley said. "We already knew a lot of guys from PAL and Little League, but we hadn't been around for a long time so it was good to get together and talk about the season and our goals."