The toughest game Detroit King’s Donnie Corley played this year was against Wyandotte Roosevelt in the district final.
Don’t let the score fool you: King pounded Roosevelt, 42-6. But for Corley, the Crusaders’ wide receiver/defensive back, the victory came against friends.
As a sophomore, he started for Roosevelt.
“I liked it there, and I really didn’t want to leave,” Corley said. “I still have some good friends on the team. When I went there, I really didn’t get a lot of love playing there. I got moved up to varsity right before the first game of the season (sophomore year). They were trying to get the seniors in the lineup. I was still working hard and making plays. I didn’t play a lot. I played some receiver.”
After his sophomore year, Corley moved to Detroit to help care for his ill grandmother. The drive to Wyandotte was too much, so Corley’s family enrolled him at King.
“It was hard trying to get to school (in Wyandotte), so I came to King,” Corley said. “I loved everything about Wyandotte. It wasn’t anything wrong. The coaches were prepared and organized. The facilities and everything were amazing. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t really want to leave. I came here and kind of just got friends and teammates and it played out well.”
Quiet by nature, Corley blended in with his new teammates.
Corley was so good he made the Free Press Dream Team as a junior. He’s a good candidate to make it again this year, especially after helping King win the Division 2 state championship with a game-winning touchdown catch as time expired. In the semifinal, his first two catches went for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
People forget Corley also is a lock-down corner, King coach Dale Harvel said.
“He’s always working towards the details that need to be done on the football field and in the classroom,” Harvel said. “What he does in the classroom translates to the football field. Since he has been here, he acted like he had been here all along. His personality … he’s so levelheaded and all the attention hasn’t changed him.
“He’s a natural, quiet leader. He leads by example. He’s the type of kid that’s easy to get along with. You go up and down the hallway and you look at him and he doesn’t stand out. He’s not loud. He’s not boisterous.”
Harvel said he realized Corley still had relationships with some Wyandotte Roosevelt players.
“That might have been the toughest part, but once he got on the field he knew he had a job to do,” Harvel said. “He had to go out and try to lead us to the next playoff game, which he did.”
Even with fellow All-Detroit first-teamers like Lavert Hill (Penn State) and Armani Posey roaming the King secondary, Corley — who is uncommitted — still stands out.
“He’s a good teammate,” Harvel said. “He’s about his business. What has been great about this year is we’ve been very consistent with our play except for one week. The key to this whole thing for us is Donnie is a star wide receiver, but if you sit down and talk to him, he talks a lot about his defense. With him and Lavert at the corners, sometimes that’s the first thing out of his mouth.
“I told (Michigan State) Coach (Mark) Dantonio that he’d be good at defensive back or corner, but personally, being a defensive guy all my life, I’d like to see him play corner.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @farrellperry.