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Blue Chip players talk best, worst of recruiting

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Donovan Peoples-Jones (9) and Rodney Hall (7) are two of five Detroit Cass Tech players among the top 15 on The Detroit News Blue Chip list.

The top 15 players on The Detroit News Blue Chip list talk about their best and worst recruiting experiences and more in this question-and-answer with David Goricki. (No. 1 player Donovan Peoples-Jones did not respond to requests to be interviewed.)


Detroit King, WR/CB, 5-11, 175

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “I enjoyed my trip to the University of Florida, had some great off-campus activities."

Worst recruiting experience: “All the coaches kept bugging me, wanting to know where I was going.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “They have a great coaching staff, one of the best defensive coordinators (Don Brown) in the country and they know how to get players to the next level, since a lot of them have NFL experience. I also know I’ll get a great education.”

Why not Michigan State: “That’s hard. I still don’t know why, honestly. I love that program, too. I love their coaching staff. I’m cool with all their coaches. It’s like a family there, and that’s why I really don’t have an answer to why not Michigan State. Michigan is the better defensive school for me.”

Detroit King's Ambry Thomas


Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, LB, 6-2, 225

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “My best memory was when I got my first offer my freshman year. When I got that first offer I was on a radio station in Oklahoma and I was so excited and so nervous because I was so young, just 13, and getting an offer from Oklahoma. I can’t even describe the feelings that I was going through.”

Worst recruiting experience: “The only moment I would say I was disappointed about was when I went down to Alabama, going into my sophomore year and I visited the school, went to their camp and they really liked me, said I could get offered soon, was high on their radar, and they never offered me. So that was probably the most disappointing thing to happen to me.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “It’s a great program right now on the rise. Jim Harbaugh, Don Brown, all those great coaches, and also because my brother (James) went there, so I had a first-hand experience with everything.”

Why not Michigan State: “It just never felt like home. Every coach there I loved to death. I don’t really dislike the school, I just never had that comfortable feeling there.”

Meet the 2017 Detroit News Blue Chip recruits


Detroit Cass Tech, S/CB, 6-0, 180

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “The best part was when my teammates and I all went out and enjoyed our time seeing different schools that offered. It was the greatest feeling in the world.”

Worst recruiting experience: “It was tough to say no to schools because the coaches were all good during the process.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “It’s a great education and Michigan has a great program, a great staff, and they know how to develop players.”

Why not Michigan State: “They have great coaches and great people there. I just liked Michigan more.”

Detroit Cass Tech's Jaylen Kelly-Powell


Detroit Cass Tech, CB, 5-9, 180

College: Penn State

Best recruiting experience: “Going to the colleges and seeing what they do in their everyday life. I just wanted to know how they went about their day after practice, you know, with their down time.”

Worst recruiting experience: “The long car or bus rides, like traveling down to Miami during my sophomore year when we went on a bus tour to places like North Carolina, North Carolina State, then to Miami.”

Favorite thing about Penn State: “It’s like a family there. Everybody gets along well together.”

Why not Michigan: “I didn’t go to Michigan that much and they really didn’t offer me.”

Why not Michigan State: “I went there so many times so it got normal to me, but they didn’t offer, either.”

Complete Detroit News Blue Chip list 1-60


Ann Arbor Pioneer, LB, 6-2, 215

College: Michigan State

Best recruiting experience: “Just meeting everybody, being able to meet people that a lot people won’t ever get to meet, guys like Coach Harbaugh, Urban Meyer, and I’m going to play for Coach (Mark) Dantonio. Just a bunch of guys who will be Hall of Famers.”

Worst recruiting experience: “It’s just the recruiting process, and in that process bad things will go with it and you just have to be prepared for it."

Favorite thing about Michigan State: “They have great people there and I will get a great education.”

Why not Michigan: “It’s the recruiting process and they had their top guys, you know, the guys that they really, really wanted, and that’s not a slap in the face or anything like that to me.


Walled Lake Western, WR, 6-3, 190

College: Michigan State

Best recruiting experience: “The Oregon game at Michigan State, they had a really big crowd and I thought that was amazing, and then the ‘Jump Around’ at Wisconsin was pretty cool, as well.”

Worst recruiting experience: “I had a visit to Michigan where I just went and didn’t get talked to at all, just sat in a room the whole time.”

Favorite thing about Michigan State: “The campus is great. They have great support for the football team and they have great coaches.”

Why not Michigan: “I wasn’t offered.”

Walled Lake Western's Cody White


St. Joseph, DE/LB, 6-3, 240

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “The trip to Alabama when they first offered me, I was pretty positive that I was going to go there because it started as my dream school growing up and I’ve always been an Alabama fan since my dad was raised in Alabama.”

Worst recruiting experience: “Honestly, I don’t have anything bad to say about the recruiting process. But the hardest part of the recruiting process for me was calling my other top schools, schools like Alabama, schools like Notre Dame and Wisconsin, and telling them that I was going to be committing to Michigan. Not because I was second-guessing my decision, but because I had developed these relationships over such a long period of time.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “The coaching staff at Michigan is second to none and the enthusiasm that they have for the game and the love that they have for the game is unparalleled, and the academic support they have here is outstanding.”

Why not Michigan State: “I have nothing bad to say about Michigan State. They recruited me hard after they offered me, but before they offered me I kind of felt like I was invisible a little bit. They were like my 11th offer and honestly I felt like they were a little too late, which is kind of sad because I always wondered why they were a little slow to pull the trigger on me since I was an in-state kid and always camped there. They were probably waiting to see something they hadn’t seen yet while the other schools already had. I love Coach Dantonio, though.”


Detroit Cass Tech, OL, 6-4, 285, OL

College: Michigan State

Best recruiting experience: “You can see the campus, the facilities, and get the feel of what it's going to be like if you decide to go there. I loved going to the games, like at Michigan State and Michigan, just see how many fans fill up the stadium and just think that could be you in the next few years.”

Worst recruiting experience: “Nothing really. I’m a very humble person. I just do a lot of research on the schools, so there wasn’t anything that really bothered me.”

Favorite thing about Michigan State: “When I got offered by Coach Dantonio when I first came here I just knew it was the place I wanted to be, felt like home. Throughout my high school career I went up there at least 20 times and felt real comfortable.”

Why not Michigan: “No comment. They did offer me, though, just don’t want to comment on it.”


Flint Southwestern, DE/DT, 6-5, 270

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “I just enjoyed going to all the schools that wanted me while taking my two official visits. I really liked Maryland, had great facilities, and liked the atmosphere and environment. They treated me like I was one of their own – so did Michigan.”

Worst recruiting experience: “I don’t think there was one, maybe calling Maryland and telling them my decision.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “It just felt like home. Great education, great football program with great coaches who I know will take me to the next level.”

Why not Michigan State: “I can’t answer that. Everything about Michigan State was great. I just wanted to go to Michigan.”


Berrien Springs, OL/DL, 6-4, 305

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “Really, going to all of these great universities and seeing what everyone has to offer.”

Worst recruiting experience: “There wasn’t one. I didn’t have a problem calling the other coaches because I know they appreciate the honesty.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “It’s close to home, a great education, great football program and all of the traditions they have there.”

Why not Michigan State: “I feel they have a way better tradition at Michigan than at Michigan State.”

Ann Arbor Skyline's Hunter Rison


Ann Arbor Skyline, WR, 5-11, 190

College: Michigan State

Best recruiting experience: “Just realizing your dream is coming true since I’ve always dreamed of playing college football, and then you get offers from colleges you’ve grown up watching, telling you that they want you. It’s such a special feeling. When I came up to State I had a chance to meet Tom Izzo, Coach Dantonio and those types of figures in the college game I’ve put on a throne. Being able to work with them and use the same facilities is just amazing.”

Worst recruiting experience: “Probably telling people no. You have to tell coaches no and they all have a place in your heart because they all wanted you to come to their school. You feel like you owe them something, but you don’t. It was hard, but you can only choose one.”

Favorite thing about Michigan State: “It’s where I feel the most comfortable. I knew I could enroll early and I’ve always been tight with the guys.”

Why not Michigan: “(Laughter). One thing that I know is that they didn’t show interest in me. I live five minutes from the stadium and they didn’t call once. I’m going to try and make them pay for that.”


Oak Park, OL, 6-4, 290

College: Michigan

Best recruiting experience: “Meeting the coaches, since it was all new to me, developing relationships with them, especially with the coaches at Michigan. Getting the chance to meet Coach Harbaugh was memorable because I attended the spring game (in 2015), which was his first one.”

Worst recruiting experience: “I didn’t have a bad experience. It’s all good. The other coaches understood my decision.”

Favorite thing about Michigan: “Excellence on the football field and excellence in the classroom.”

Why not Michigan State: “I didn’t have an offer from Michigan State. They had a chance since I went up there on visits, met the coaches, camped up there a couple of times, but they didn’t offer me.”


U-D Jesuit, S, 6-2, 180

College: Wisconsin

Best recruiting experience: “I think it was getting the first offer from Northwestern in September of my junior year, and from that moment on I was happy to tell my parents that they wouldn’t have to pay for my college. I enjoyed taking all the visits, seeing the facilities and meeting all the people.”

Worst recruiting experience: “I didn’t like the stress of dealing with having to make critical decisions on where you want to go, figure out what your top schools were. Then, once you build the relationships you have to break them and pick one school, and that’s hard because there’s so many good schools and the relationships that you’ve built are outstanding.”

Favorite thing about Wisconsin: “It had everything I needed and everything I wanted. They have a great program that has been successful and I can get a great education.”

Why not Michigan: “Michigan offered me early in the process, had a couple of commits, and the relationship after that kind of faded. I understand that since you only have a couple of spots (at my position)."

Why not Michigan State: “Really, the same type of situation as Michigan.”


Detroit Cass Tech, QB 6-2, 200

College: Northern Illinois

Best recruiting experience: “Finding out that all my hard work paid off when I started getting offers, showing they believe in me like my parents and my friends did, truly a blessing. Northern Illinois definitely felt like home, just by the way they treated you when you were on your visit.”

Worst recruiting experience: “Going to Ohio State because they had their favorites in mind. It was like, ‘They don’t even know who I am.’ They have their selections on who they like already. … That’s what keeps me motivated. Like my father said, ‘You’re going to have to prove yourself your whole life.’”

Favorite thing about Northern Illinois: “It just feels like home. I’m a dual-threat quarterback and that’s the style they like to have there.”

Why not Michigan: “Tyrone Wheatley (former UM running backs coach) was very impressed with me, but was honest saying they like a pocket quarterback. If something breaks down and you can use your legs, they’d rather you throw it away. Michigan never offered.”

Why not Michigan State: “Michigan State had me on their board as the No. 1 quarterback in the state. They never offered, though. I wonder why, but what can you say.”

Twitter: @DavidGoricki