Name: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Weight: 208 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: #9
Last year: I ranked Peoples-Jones #6 and said he would have 40 catches for 600 yards and 6 touchdowns (LINK). He caught 47 passes for 612 yards and 8 touchdowns; and returned 25 punts for 250 yards and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating: 92
Peoples-Jones is the ninth-highest rated recruit in Michigan history (in the recruiting era), and last year he started to show some of that promise. There were flashes in 2017, but not the production. Michigan started handing out a team Offensive Skill Player of the Year award in 2018, and Peoples-Jones was the recipient. He led the team with 47 receptions and 8 touchdowns, and his punt returning was solid, too. Highlights of his 2018 season included a 79-yard touchdown against SMU, a 3-touchdown performance against MSU, a 60-yard punt return TD against Nebraska, and a career-high 7 receptions against Ohio State.
Enter the Josh Gattis era. Peoples-Jones has been battling some groin issues, so as long as those problems don’t persist, he should take another step forward. He has the speed to take the top off the defense, the strength to fight off tackles, and the hands to make difficult catches. One area I think Peoples-Jones could improve is in his route running, but Gattis has a reputation as one of the top wide receiver coaches in the country. Alabama threw the ball a ton in 2018, but the top five receivers all had 40+ catches, 6+ touchdowns, and an average of 16+ yards per reception. Will that happen for Michigan in 2019? I doubt it, because the same pieces aren’t available for the Wolverines. Shea Patterson isn’t regarded as highly as Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s offensive line was superior, and Alabama had multiple 5-star running backs to threaten on the ground. But we should see an uptick in Peoples-Jones’s production.
Prediction: Starting wide receiver and punt returner; 50 catches for 800 yards and 9 touchdowns
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