SAN ANTONIO – Michigan commits were on full display during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices on Monday.
Here’s what I was able to gather from the East team’s practice at Heroes Stadium on Monday.
1. Donovan Peoples-Jones does whatever he wants to do
Michigan’s top-ranked commitment showed up during practice on Monday. Detroit Cass Tech WR prospect Donovan Peoples-Jones is a 5-star and the nation’s top receiver, according to the 247Sports composite ranking system. He proved his ranking against the nation’s best competition on Monday.
For the first time, Peoples-Jones looked like he belonged. Kids were bigger (linemen) and some were taller (one tight end, and Tarik Black). I was surprised, and a little curious, as to what was going to happen when People-Jones competed against players at the same talent level as the dominant Detroit native.
And then he did this.
Tua with the throw of the day so far… pic.twitter.com/uIoS2L0VCy
— John Garcia, Jr. (@JohnGarcia_Jr) January 2, 2017
Don’t get me wrong: That’s an absolute terrific pass from Alabama commit Tua Tagoviola. But Peoples-Jones’ ability to create separation with two defenders on him is ahead of any other. He has legit speed in his big 6-foot-3 frame that makes him the most enticing deep threat in years for Michigan. Match that with his great release off the line-of-scrimmage, and the proof is in the pudding as to why he is the nation’s top receiver.
Michigan is getting a gem in Peoples-Jones.
2. Tarik Black impressed everyone
Michigan 4-star WR commit Tarik Black was impressive from beginning-to-end in practices on Monday. And that’s by all accounts, as he was included in Scout.com’s top five performers of the day.
— Jesse Re Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) January 2, 2017
Black’s skills were on full display as he had a big highlight touchdown grab in the end zone early. He isn’t as hyped as Peoples-Jones, but he has a pretty good shot to get into the mix in Michigan’s receiving corps in 2017.
He has the height at 6 feet 4 to tower over most Big Ten cornerbacks and the hands to be a serious threat in the red zone.
If he keeps performing all week as he did Monday, consider him a serious threat to get some serious playing time in his true freshman season.
3. Deron Irving-Bey has some work to do, as expected
From Flint (Mich.), 4-star DE Deron Irving-Bey has gone under-the-radar as a Michigan commit in this U.S. Army Bowl.
His 6-foot-4 frame gives him a lot of potential. Beyond that, he has a very solid initial first step, one that can fool the best of them.
But he did struggle through most of the battles between the offensive and defensive lines that I watched. His hands need to get more violent, and he needs to get quicker and stronger.
There’s a lot to be excited about with Irving-Bey because I think defensive line coach Greg Mattison can do wonders with him. It just will take time before it’s on display.
4. Ambry Thomas can’t be truly evaluated after Day 1
Michigan’s top cornerback commit – 4-star Ambry Thomas – plays press coverage, that’s where he stars. In one-on-one drills, he wasn’t allowed to play press coverage, which frustrated Thomas. Michigan believes he’s a perfect fit into Michigan’s press coverage.
Even in cushion coverage, the only catches he was giving up were underneath.
His elite speed allows him to keep up with receivers. He can get too aggressive, and that leads to penalties at the next level. But in order for me to give a true “good or bad” evaluation on Thomas’ day, I need to see him in the coverage he’ll be playing for four years in Ann Arbor.
We’ll be back with what went down from Michigan commits at the West’s practice soon.