Michigan stars finalizing recruiting decisions

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Donovan Johnson

It’s a busy time for some of the most sought-after college football recruits in Michigan.

Detroit Cass Tech five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones will announce his decision on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., his coach, Thomas Wilcher, confirmed to The Detroit News on Monday. Peoples-Jones will make the announcement from the WXYZ-TV studios and it will be shown on ESPN.

Peoples-Jones took his official visit to Michigan this past weekend. His five finalists are Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida and Florida State.

Peoples-Jones did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Peoples-Jones (6-2, 190) earned a spot on The Detroit News Dream Team for the second straight year after helping Cass Tech win the Division 1 state championship, 49-20 over Detroit Catholic Central, to finish the season 14-0.

Peoples-Jones had 60 receptions for 1,064 yards and 17 TDs this year. He also intercepted four passes from his defensive back position. He had a 49-yard TD reception in the title game.

Detroit King four-star receiver Ambry Thomas announced last week he was going to Michigan.

Thomas and Peoples-Jones battled in the PSL title game at Ford Field in October with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh looking on. Peoples-Jones hauled in Rodney Hall’s 55-yard TD pass three minutes into the game to set the tempo for a 21-0 halftime lead and an eventual 41-20 victory. Thomas had three TD receptions, all in the second half.


Donovan Peoples-Jones announces college choice Thursday

Peoples-Jones’ teammate, running back / cornerback Donovan Johnson, went on an official visit to Penn State this past weekend and plans to make his decision between Virginia Tech and Penn State later this week.

“I’m just coming back from Penn State right now,” Johnson said on Monday morning. “I took a visit there, talked to the coaches, hung out with some of the players and took a look around campus, checked out the facilities. Everything is first-rate.”

Johnson, who has few peers in the speed department with a 4.35 40 time, rushed for 1,100 yards and 16 TDs, including a 60-yard TD in the state championship game. He averaged 15 yards a carry and also had a dozen pass breakups and three interceptions, and scored on three kickoff returns to earn a spot on The Detroit News Dream Team.

Ann Arbor Pioneer running back / linebacker Antjuan Simmons and Southfield A&T linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill are also Dream Team players. Simmons was an Ohio State commit and McCaskill a Cincinnati commit, but both players recently de-committed, McCaskill opening up his recruitment last week after Tommy Tuberville resigned as Cincinnati head coach. Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell accepted the head coaching job at Cincinnati on Saturday and quickly brought Purdue co-defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman on board with him.


Lorenzo McCaskill, who earned a spot on The Detroit News Dream Team, had originally committed to Cincinnati, but re-opened his recruitment after Tommy Tuberville resigned as head coach.

“I’m de-committed as of right now,” said McCaskill on Sunday. “Coach Freeman and I have a good relationship when he was at Purdue recruiting me.

“I still might go back to Cincinnati, but I’m not enrolling early like I had planned before. I’m going to take official visits. Indiana, Purdue and Mississippi State have offered, too. I plan on going to Cincinnati the first week of January, then the next week to Purdue. I’ve already talked to Coach Fickell, but haven’t sat down with him yet.”

McCaskill said multiple MAC schools have also offered and he was intrigued by Western Michigan, but thinks P.J. Fleck could be gone from Kalamazoo in the not too distant future.

“I’ve talked to Coach Fleck but it doesn’t seem to me that he’ll be there for too much longer,” McCaskill said.

Simmons plans to make his decision on National Signing Day on Feb. 1. Simmons still has Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Notre Dame and Arizona on his radar.

Simmons was asked if Harbaugh still has a scholarship offer for him.

"He didn't tell me otherwise," Simmons said.

Simmons said he is still interested in the Spartans, as well, despite their 3-9 record this season. He took his official visit to MSU in November.

After Peoples-Jones’ announcement on Thursday, two other top Michigan targets could make their commitments this week.

Five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson of Brooklyn, New York, will announce on Friday, according to a Rivals report. He is considering Georgia, Alabama and Florida State, in addition to Michigan.

Cesar Ruiz, a four-star center from IMG Academy, will make his announcement on Monday. His favorites are Michigan, Auburn, Florida and North Carolina.