DEARBORN, Mich. – Donovan Peoples-Jones didn’t have to look far to find a familiar face Wednesday night at the Dearborn Inn. People from around the state of Michigan gathered in the hotel’s ballroom to honor this year’s Detroit Free Press Dream Team, the best of the best high school football players.
Peoples-Jones is one of eight in-state players who help make up the 30-player 2017 Michigan recruiting class. He and six of his recruiting classmates were named to this year’s Dream Team.
“It means a lot to be recognized at this level,” Peoples-Jones said. “It’s an honor and a blessing, and it’s great to be recognized with such a good group. You put in the work throughout the season, it’s great to be honored at the end of the season.”
The Dream Team is an annual awards night celebration hosted by the State of Michigan chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Peoples-Jones was the top-rated wide receiver in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite ranking system. He was joined by safety and Detroit Cass Tech teammate Jaylen Kelly-Powell, cornerback Ambry Thomas (Detroit Martin Luther King), defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher (St. Joseph), offensive lineman Phillip Paea (Berrien Springs), linebacker Josh Ross (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) and defensive lineman Deron Irving-Bey (Flint Southwestern).
Ross was named captain of the 23-player squad.
He told Land of 10 last week that this year’s Michigan class of recruits was “legendary.”
“We had so many good guys, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Ambry Thomas,” Ross said. “The top six guys in the state going to Michigan. That’s unheard of. We’ve got a real good class and we’re going to be real close by the end of our senior year.”
Peoples-Jones, Kelly-Powell, Malone-Hatcher and Thomas are already enrolled in classes at Michigan. They are working out with the team as it prepares for spring practices, which begin March 24.
“The workouts are for your body to grow,” Peoples-Jones said. “The goal for the workout is to get your body better.”
It’s just one of many transitions freshmen must make that first year.
Kelly-Powell said it wasn’t the classes that have been the toughest part of his first semester on campus.
“The first workout — it kind of got to me,” Kelly-Powell said. “After that first week, I got used to it.”
Irving-Bey, Ross, and Paea decided against enrolling early and are remaining in high school for their entire senior years. They’ll get to Ann Arbor in the summer.
“They sent me a workout plan,” Irving-Bey said. “My (high school) coach, he knows what I’ve got to get better at. I think between this time and when I go there I’ll be way better technique-wise.”