Southfield A&T football stars transfer to Cass Tech

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Defending Division 1 state football champion Detroit Cass Tech will be hit hard by graduation losses with the departure of more than a handful of Division 1 players, including the aerial combination of quarterback Rodney Hall and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, along with standout running back Donovan Johnson.

But, don’t feel sorry for Aaron Jackson, who will take over as Cass Tech’s quarterback.

Jackson, who is preparing for his senior year with an offer from Central Michigan securely in his back pocket, has a pair of new weapons to work with in transfers Arthur “Lew” Nichols and Brandon Gray from Southfield A&T.

Nichols, a 6-foot, 195-pound running back, earned a spot on The News All-North first-team after rushing for 1,328 yards on 153 carries and eight touchdowns his sophomore year, highlighted by a 265-yard game against Oak Park.

Gray, a 6-5 junior receiver, returns to Cass Tech after playing the last two years at Southfield and Southfield A&T. He is a three-star receiver who has more than a dozen offers, including an offer earlier this week from Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck. He also has offers from Arkansas, Iowa State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

Jackson, meanwhile, should be ready to take over the job full-time. He has big-time experience, after being forced to fill in for an injured Hall during the Division 1 state title game in 2015, completing 19-of-27 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-27 loss to Romeo.

He received playing time early in the 2016 season while Hall was getting into full strength, finding Peoples-Jones for a 37- and 58-yard touchdowns in the season-opening win over Oak Park.

Jackson doesn’t have the running ability of Hall, but has a strong arm to give Cass Tech a balanced attack.

Southfield A&T’s losses are piling up with the departure of Nichols and Gray following three-star sophomore quarterback Sam Johnson leaving for Walled Lake Western and three-star junior running back Eric McArn headed to Division 2 defending state champion Detroit King.

Johnson, who has multiple offers, including Temple, Cincinnati and Illinois, left after getting injured late in the season and watching junior John Darby start the last several games while leading Southfield A&T to a share of the Oakland Activities Association Red title and a district championship.

King lost four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas (Michigan), but still returns the majority of its starters, along with transfer Erik Gibson from Redford Thurston.

Gibson, a 6-2, 190-pound junior, took a visit to Michigan State this past weekend and is on Mark Dantonio’s radar.