Star-studded Cass Tech seeking D1 redemption

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Jaylen Kelly-Powell was the first player on the field at Burton International School Monday afternoon, several minutes before Detroit Cass Tech’s 3 p.m. practice to kick off the high school season.

Detroit Cass Tech running back Jaylen Kelly-Powell

“I’m ready to go out and have some fun and compete,” said the 6-foot, 180-pound Kelly-Powell who will play some receiver, cornerback and running back this season.

Kelly-Powell is a four-star player who has sub-4.5 speed in the 40-yard. He should be thrilled to be on the field, knowing he has 43 Division I offers with Alabama and Auburn jumping on board in the last few weeks.

Kelly-Powell said he’s cut the field to 12, but had trouble naming them, and it would be hard to blame him with so many offers.

“I have a top 12 and I’m trying to narrow it to like a top five,” Kelly-Powell said. “Nebraska, UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, who else? Arkansas … couple of others.”

Kelly-Powell was more focused on the opening day of practice. He went to Michigan’s BBQ Sunday and felt there was more things to do than a year ago, "a lot of games, rock climbing, water slides and a lot of food," he said.

Cass Tech advanced to the Division 1 state championship game last year, falling to Romeo in the title game while playing without starting quarterback Rodney Hall, who suffered an ankle/fibula injury in the semifinal win over Canton.

Hall, a Northern Illinois commit, feels healthy and will be tested early and often this week by going up against four-star defensive backs like Kelly-Powell, Donovan Johnson, junior Kalon Gervin and five-star Donovan Peoples-Jones, who is one of the premier receivers in the nation, doubling as a defensive back and punt returner.

“We all go up against each other and we also give each other advice and techniques, like ‘this is what a DB would do or a receiver would do,’ to help each other out,” said Kelly-Powell about competing every day with Peoples-Jones, Johnson and Gervin.

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Who knows, Gervin could have 43 offers by this time next year since he already has 23, including offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Johnson said he has narrowed his field to Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Arizona and Missouri.

Johnson was the fastest player clocked at The Opening last month in Oregon with a 4.35 40. Gervin also has outstanding speed (4.38).

"It was fun," said Johnson of The Opening. "You get the chance to see where you're at going up against the top prospects in your class."

Peoples-Jones, who is still considering Michigan and Michigan State, attended The Opening, but did not compete due to a hamstring injury. He missed practice Monday while attending physical therapy and could be at practice later in the week.

Hall showed no signs of the injury (fibula) and is ready to go. He will be protected by a huge offensive line, led by Michigan State-bound Jordan Reid (6-3, 285). He had surgery just days after the injury, then another surgery two months later to take screws out.

“I feel good, just had to do a lot of running, stretching and balance things because it was my bone,” said Hall, who threw for 2,384 yards and 19 TDs while running for 1,127 yards and 16 TDs. “They had to put a plate in and four screws in my ankle to hold it together, then took the screws out, but left the plate in, saying they usually leave the plate in with younger people. I’m ready to have some fun now. I’m ready to go.”


Twitter: @DavidGoricki