Donovan Peoples-Jones doesn’t say a lot, but his performance at The Opening, a high school prospect showcase in Oregon, spoke volumes.
With some of the top seniors in the country on hand, Peoples-Jones won the Nike Football Rating Championship, a feat usually bestowed to an upperclassman.
He’s just a junior-to-be wide receiver at Cass Tech, who was overshadowed last year by the likes of Mike Weber and a veteran defense.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound safety/receiver, wowed those in attendance with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time and a 42.4 inch standing vertical leap.
“I’m pretty much doing the same things that we do here when I go to a camp,” said Peoples-Jones. “There are a lot of great athletes at Cass Tech. The same caliber athletes …I was just feeling like I was at home, just competing. I just expected to go out there against a lot of competition and go out there and do my best.
“It was real fun. There was a lot of support out there, a lot of hype. I just had a really good time being out there with all those guys.”
Peoples-Jones currently holds a four-star ranking and is ranked as the 55th rated recruit in the country for the class of 2017, according to Rivals.com.
247sports.com ranked him 23rd nationally and fourth among wide receivers and first in the state of Michigan and a five-star recruit.
MSU and U-M now likely will have even more competition for his services.
“It was a great experience,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Competing with some of the best athletes in the country is a blessing. It was a blessing to be out there. A lot of those guys come from winning backgrounds. They had that same passion to win. It was just a competitive environment.”
Peoples-Jones and Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher believed everything is going according to the plan that the two and his parents mapped out back in the eighth-grade.
“He’s great at testing and he has great athleticism,” said WIlcher. “He has that freakish stuff. He played free safety for us on third-down and long. He comes up whenever we put him out there. The most important thing about him is he’s a good person. He comes from a good family. He has a great mother who supports him and tries to make sure she gives him everything he needs.”
Which is important to Peoples-Jones.
“My family, the community, everybody supports me,” said Peoples-Jones. “It has been really good.
“I’m just trying to do anything that I can to help us win.”
With the dominating presence of Weber at Ohio State, Wilcher expects a more versatile offensive attack and with the development of Peoples-Jones, who was just an honorable mention All-PSL player a year ago. The experience in Oregon should only boost his confidence.
“He’s a great student,” said Wilcher. “He has a good father who supports him, financially and socially. He comes to visit and flies into the games. He has a great family structure with a grandfather and his uncles. He’s the only child. It’s just a great atmosphere for a kid to be growing up in when you have so much support and love from everybody around you ever since you were a little kid.”
There’s still a little basketball and track in Peoples-Jones’ blood, but football is now king.
“This is how coach WIlcher and I planned it a long time ago,” he said. “I stuck to the plan and he has been helping me throughout the whole process. Every year, every week it was about progress and getting better and tracking my progress.
“I’m one of the older people now. Coach is going to expect a lot out of me and hopefully I can live up to it.”
He did in Oregon.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.