Despite his recognition as America's top high school player at a position occasionally defined by divas, Donovan Peoples-Jones brings a workman's approach to wide receiver.
Sure, he hears the accolades, deals with constant media attention and commands attention from the most notable coaches in college football, but the 5-star prospect is doing his best to keep things simple while surrounded by a recruiting whirlwind.
"Really what I can control is going out there to compete, having fun and doing my best," Peoples-Jones told Bleacher Report. "I want to put forth my best effort... I have no control over what someone else is doing. I just want to make the best out of my opportunities."
Those opportunities include scholarship offers from the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Miami Hurricanes, Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes and a relative who's who of college football.
Consistently tight-lipped about details of his thought process regarding national signing day plans, Peoples-Jones isn't the kind of recruit you'll find dropping hints throughout social media. So when he announced a top 10 in January, folks took notice:
His initial collection of potential landing spots featured the Florida Gators, Michigan, Alabama, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Michigan State Spartans, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Ohio State, Stanford Cardinal and USC Trojans. Now approaching the end of his junior year at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, expect that outlook to change.
Peoples-Jones isn't placing pressure on himself to hurry toward a decision, but he would like to whittle down an expansive process. The goal is to cut schools under consideration to five favorites before entering the final phase of his recruitment.
“I’ll probably come out with a top five at some point just so I can focus on those five,” he said. “I don’t really know when that’s going to come, but it’s probably going to come with the more visits I take. As soon as I get as comfortable as I want to be then I’ll make a top five and I’ll go from there, take my officials and ultimately make my decision.”
Rated No. 6 overall among 2017 prospects in 247Sports composite rankings, Peoples-Jones is still preparing a travel itinerary for the summer. He's not ready to reveal those intentions just yet, though he did lock down one trip Saturday.
It's a return flight to Beaverton, Oregon, where Peoples-Jones solidified his spot among the nation's elite athletes last summer. He'll head back to Nike's world headquarters in July after earning a rare repeat invitation to The Opening following his performance at the Columbus regional.
Last year, Peoples-Jones dazzled during SPARQ testing, which measures athleticism through combine-like drills that include the 40-yard dash, agility shuttle run, power ball toss and vertical jump. Standing 6'2", 192 pounds, he clocked a 4.42 in the 40-yard sprint during competition finals en route to prestigious SPARQ national champion honors.
"I would like to go out there and reclaim my title," Peoples-Jones said. "I'm just going to have fun. This is a fun football event with the nation's top prospects. We're just all out there working and having fun with each other."
The Opening will also allow him to further bond with top-tier quarterback prospects, who will be in attendance as Elite 11 finalists. Many premier passers view Peoples-Jones as a primary target and continue to make an effort toward teaming up with the prized receiver.
He identified these quarterbacks as prospects affiliated with members of his top 10 and elsewhere, including 2016 Florida State signee Malik Henry and Clemson commit Hunter Johnson. Peoples-Jones also pointed to Tate Martell (uncommitted), Dwayne Haskins (2016 Ohio State signee), Jake Allen (Florida commit), Rocky Lombardi (Michigan State commit) and Dylan McCaffrey (Michigan commit) as ardent pursuers.
"I'm building my relationship with all of them," he said.
Peoples-Jones possesses all the characteristics coaches covet in a legitimate No. 1 target downfield. He doesn't underestimate the importance of having a capable trigger man behind center who can set the stage for his success.
"That's a duo," Peoples-Jones said. "I'll be with that duo for the next three or four years so I always got to have a great quarterback. That's definitely special. You and your quarterback have to be best buddies."
He certainly looks the part of a quarterback's best friend. Peoples-Jones averaged 25.9 yards per catch last fall, tallying 1,012 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
Opinions vary among recruiting analysts when it comes to his ultimate collegiate destination. Michigan leads Peoples-Jones' 247Sports crystal ball, carrying 36 percent of experts' predictions, while Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan State (18 percent apiece) follow behind.