The Michigan football coaches have looked nationally to build recruiting classes early in their tenure in Ann Arbor. Players from Florida and Washington, Connecticut and California, and everywhere in between have earned interest from U-M.
But the staff also has looked close to home — especially in recent weeks — in seeking the best players for the program.
Several of those Midwestern players competed at the Cleveland stop on the Rivals Camp Series tour. Commit David Reese represented U-M, while a couple dozen offered players from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania impressed.
The top three defensive players at the event all hailed from the Great Lakes State, though two (Ann Arbor Skyline linebacker Daelin Hayes to USC and Detroit King cornerback Lavert Hill to Penn State) have committed to other programs. The No. 3 defensive performer was recent Michigan offer Ambry Thomas, a 2017 defensive back from Detroit King.
“Thomas showed some quick footwork during position drills, and he was able to get in and out of his breaks with a strong burst,” said Rivals Midlands analyst Jason Howell. “During one-on-one competition, he was at the top of his game. He was blanketing receiver after receiver. He was able to stick with the quicker guys and he was able to handle the physical play of the bigger guys.”
On the other side of the ball, another 2017 Detroiter took top honors. Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones has been on a roll with scholarship offers — Alabama, Notre Dame and USC have entered the mix — since word of his strong camp got out. Michigan will have plenty of competition to reel him in.
“Peoples-Jones brought that special performance and earned the MVP award,” Rivals Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt said. “The 6-foot-1, 182-pound rising junior pulled in great, acrobatic catches along the sideline, separated consistently on his routes and made fingertip grabs on poorly thrown balls. Rep after rep, Peoples-Jones seemed to take his game higher and higher.”
Tim Sullivan is the football recruiting editor of The Wolverine magazine and thewolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @tims_wolverine.