Meet Donovan Peoples-Jones, the 2015 Nike Football Ratings National Champion

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystJuly 9, 2015

2017 5-star WR Donovan Peoples-Jones made history in becoming the first underclassmen to win the Nike Football Ratings Championship.
2017 5-star WR Donovan Peoples-Jones made history in becoming the first underclassmen to win the Nike Football Ratings Championship.Credit: 247Sports

BEAVERTON, Oregon — For the first time in the history of The Opening, an underclassman will take home the Nike Football Ratings National Champion crown.

With a winning score of 149.49, 2017 5-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones beat out a host of top 2016 standouts in a series of tests in events such as the vertical jump, agility shuttle, powerball toss and 40-yard dash.

The Opening congratulated Peoples-Jones via Twitter:

The Opening @TheOpening

Congratulations to the 2015 Nike Football #TheOpening Rating Champion with a score of 149.49 - Donovan Peoples-Jones http://t.co/BUUSkHuRpp

His score topped that of last year's winner, 2015 4-star athlete and Oregon signee Kirk Merritt, who scored 148.83, according to Billy Gates of the Oregonian.

Peoples-Jones edged out 2016 4-star corner Nigel Knott and 4-star receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, with his 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash in the final event of the championship round sealing his victory.

"It felt great," Peoples-Jones said. "There are 166 athletes out here. These are the top people in the country. Just to be crowned champion, I'm really blessed."

While it may come as a shock to see an underclassman win the testing crown, Peoples-Jones has put together a strong work resume in the offseason.

For starters, according to Scout.com's Allen Trieu, he won the SPARQ MVP at the Columbus Nike Opening Regional back in May.

Also, given that he checks in as the nation's No. 4 wideout and No. 23 player overall in the 2017 class, the state of Michigan's top junior prospect proved he belonged in a stacked field full of the nation's rising seniors.

He reached the final round—which took the top 10 scores tabulated in the morning testing session—after finishing with a score of 135.35, as noted by Student Sports.

"I came out here and got a good score in the morning," Peoples-Jones said. "This afternoon, I just improved so I'm really happy with that."

Peoples-Jones credited his staff at Detroit's Cass Tech High School, in particular head coach Thomas Wilcher, with helping him prepare for this week's festivities.

The 6'2", 192-pounder, greeted first after winning by fellow Detroit receiver standout and 2016 4-star Donnie Corley, said he learned a lot from his good friend and hopes his win does more to shine light on other talented prospects from the Midwest region.

"I hope it does help us [get more recognition], but we are just going to keep continuing to work in the north," Peoples-Jones said. "We have some great players too, but we have to keep getting better."

Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles highlighted Peoples-Jones' impressive 40-yard dash time:

Damon Sayles @DamonSayles

Donovan Peoples-Jones runs a 4.42 40. Speed kills. #NFRC #TheOpening http://t.co/T0sBtiaiwu

Peoples-Jones already holds 14 offers from schools such as Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and USC.

He earned his latest offer from the Trojans after a strong performance at their summer camp in late June. He has also visited Louisville and Tennessee recently and wants to take a trip to Florida in the near future.

While the in-state schools are sure to put the full-court press on him, he says he looks up to a recent SEC standout who was selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft.

"I really like Amari Cooper," Peoples-Jones said. "I feel my playing style resembles Amari Cooper."

He admits his process is still in its infant stages, and he doesn't have a timeline for when he will make his commitment.

Sanjay Kirpalani @SanjayKirpalani

Donovan peoples jones 42.4 https://t.co/ao2ExVrbsU

"I don't really have a decision date set right now," he said. "I [will do it] whenever I feel most comfortable. It could come tomorrow or the day before signing day."

Until then, he plans to continue working on improving his game as he's done throughout the offseason.

He's already opened some eyes with his performance thus far in Oregon. Regardless of what happens from here on out, he will return home with a shiny new trophy that symbolizes his latest accomplishment.

But like his idol Cooper, Peoples-Jones is modest in accepting accolades. Instead, he's focused on honing his craft and deflecting credit to those who have helped him along his journey.

"Our coaches just prepare us really well," Peoples-Jones said. "The whole community gives us great support. I just feel real blessed to be in this position."

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.


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