Donovan Peoples-Jones is a freshman wide receiver at Michigan and one of the Wolverines’ most promising young players. Here are five things to know about him.
Who is Donovan Peoples-Jones? 5 things to know about Michigan receiver
1. Peoples-Jones was the best wide receiver prospect in the entire Class of 2017
Peoples-Jones was not just a highly touted prospect out of high school. He was not just a 5-star recruit. He was not just the best player in his state. He was the No. 12 player and No. 1 receiver in the Class of 2017, per 247Sports, ahead of fellow 5-stars Tee Higgins (Clemson), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) and Joseph Lewis (USC).
Previous No. 1 receiver recruits have included Laquan Treadwell (2013), Dorial Green-Beckham (2012) and Julio Jones (2008), so Peoples-Jones is in some good company.
2. Peoples-Jones did not go far from home for college
Peoples-Jones attended Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, which stands only 43.4 miles away from Michigan Stadium, so he has never been far from Ann Arbor’s shadow.
He is far from the only member of Michigan’s 2017 class to hail from the Wolverine State. In fact, the group feature eight in-state players, including the six best Michigan-bred players in the class. Peoples-Jones is even joined by one of his high school teammates, safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell.
3. Peoples-Jones’ commitment was a big deal
Anytime a player of Peoples-Jones’ caliber announces his commitment, it’s going to be a big deal, but this one was especially high-profile. After a long and competitive recruitment, Peoples-Jones held a press conference last December that was broadcast live on ESPN (and on local news in Detroit), in which he sat in front of helmets representing Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State. After thanking the people close him, Peoples-Jones pulled out Wolverines hats for himself and his parents, sending Michigan fans all over the country into delirium.
4. Peoples-Jones immediately became Michigan’s top kick and punt returner
It did not take long for Peoples-Jones to find his role on the 2017 Wolverines, even as a true freshman. The receiver’s first college touch came as a punt returner in Michigan’s season-opening win over Florida (a team that heavily recruited him), and he returned kicks in that game as well. Though he wants to be a big part of the Wolverines’ offense, he’s happy to contribute on special teams.
“As a punt returner, you’ve got to be relentless and fearless back there, so anything I can do back there to help this team win,” Peoples-Jones said after the game. “Every time I get a chance to touch the ball, I want to score. I don’t look at it that way [playing safe]. I just want to make a big play for my team.
5. The Wolverines have high hopes for Peoples-Jones’ future
Peoples-Jones may have begun his career as a return specialist, but it’s been obvious since he committed to Michigan that he would on day be a major part of the Wolverines’ passing attack. At 6 feet, 2 inches with blazing speed, Peoples-Jones has all the tools to be a top receiver in the Big Ten. Just ask Jim Harbaugh.
“He’s really serious about being good, that’s what’s stood out the most,” Harbaugh said in April, according to MLive. “That’s standing out even more than some of the physical attributes that he has.
“So far so good. But he’s serious about being good. Very smart.”
Or ask offensive coordinator Tim Drevno.
“Donovan is a special, special person and player,” Drevno said this spring, per MLive. “He’s really locked in, really focused and he really wants it. He’s very mature, he has a great concentration level and he wants to be a student of the game.