The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 51   FOOTBALL RECRUITING had one interception, which he re- turned for a touchdown, giving him five in his career — good enough to tie the state record. On offense he carried the ball 80 times for 719 yards (9.0 yards per rush) and 11 touch- downs. He also caught 15 passes for another 188 yards and three scores. Mason's huge year on the field led him to being named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Connecti- cut. He was also tabbed as USA To- day's Defensive Player of the Year in the state, a two-time New Haven Register first-team all-state performer and a Walter Camp All-Connecticut selection. Newtown lost just five games while Mason was in uniform, won the South-West Conference three of five seasons and reached the state playoffs in four consecutive seasons. Unfortunately for the No. 6 player in Connecticut his prep career ended on a low note. Suffering from a torn meniscus, he was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team lost in the playoffs. DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES, WR — 6-1, 188 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Detroit Cass Tech Peoples-Jones is Michigan's highest rated signee, listing as the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 12 overall pros- pect nationally. He helped Cass Tech achieve perfection in 2016 with a 14-0 record that was capped by a 49-20 win over Detroit Catholic Central in the Division I state championship game. Peoples-Jones caught 60 passes for 1,071 yards (17.8 yards per recep- tion) and 17 touchdowns, and also intercepted four passes on defense. He was named Associated Press Division 1-2 Player of the Year and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan. He's also a member of the 2016 Division 1-2 Associated Press All-State first team, The Detroit News All-State Dream Team and the Detroit Free Press Dream Team. Academi- cally, Peoples-Jones has maintained a 3.98 GPA in the classroom and plans to study pre-medicine at Michigan. CESAR RUIZ. OL — 6-3, 313 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy Ruiz, the nation's top center and No. 41 overall prospect nationally, verbally committed to Michigan Dec. 18 amidst a flurry of pledges to give U-M a much needed pure center in the class. Originally from Camden, N.J., Ruiz played his last two seasons of high school football at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Ascenders fin- ished 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country by USA Today in 2016, but be- cause IMG is not a full member of the Florida High School Athletic Associa- tion it is not required to abide by the same rules as most schools in Florida. Therefore, Ruiz and his teammates at IMG cannot compete for a state title. Similarly, IMG Academy athletes are often not included in postsea- son awards or honors lists, but Ruiz was named an Under Armour All- American and performed well while in Orlando, Fla. BENJAMIN ST-JUSTE, DB — 6-3, 185 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Montreal (Quebec) Vieux Because of the decommitment of Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice three-star tight end Carter Dunaway, St-Juste is the longest-tenured pledge in U-M's 2017 class with a commit- ment date of June 23, 2015. The No. 20 cornerback and No. 229 overall player nationally and his Vieux Spartans had a bit of a down year, finishing just 5-5. St-Juste re- corded 30 tackles and picked off two passes. He also broke up another 18 throws and forced a fumble. St-Juste was recognized as a Quebec Student Sports Federation Division I (highest division) All-Star at corner- back and listed as the No. 7 player in Canada by AMBRY THOMAS, DB — 5-11, 165 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Detroit Martin Luther King Thomas dropped for U-M Dec. 6 after looking like a Michigan State lean for much of his recruitment. The No. 15 cornerback and No. 146 overall player nationally according to made a ton of plays on both sides of the ball in 2016, pushed Detroit Martin Luther King to a 12-2 record and helped the Crusaders re- peat as Division II state champions by defeating Walled Lake Western 18-0 in the state title game. As a senior, Thomas registered 42 tackles, 14 passes broken up and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. On of- fense, he caught 43 passes for 895 yards (20.1 yards per reception) and 13 touchdowns. The No. 2 player in the state was a top-10 selection for Michigan High School Football Player of the Year, an award that ultimately went to rival- turned-teammate Peoples-Jones. To go with that, he was named to the 2016 Associated Press High School Division 1-2 All-State first team and The Detroit News All-State Dream Team as a defensive back, and also was a member of the Detroit Free Press All-State Dream Team. J'MARICK WOODS, DB — 6-3, 198 ✪ ✪ ✪ Florence (Ala.) High School Woods pledged to the Wolverines on March 28, 2016, and despite look- ing closely at Arkansas and Missis- sippi State down the stretch he re- mained committed to the Wolverines. He and his Florence squad strug- gled mightily in 2016 going just 2-8 on the year. He notched 70 tackles, including two for loss, and also had two interceptions, one he returned 20 yards for a touchdown. Despite the overall team struggles, the No. 22 player in Alabama was named a first-team all-state defensive back in 6A, Alabama's second-largest classification, by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. USA Today also tabbed him as a second-team defen- sive back on the 2016 ALL-USA Ala- bama Football Team. In addition, he was a Times Daily first-team all-area selection at defensive back for the 4A-6A classifications. ❏ Ambry Thomas, the No. 15 cornerback nationally according to, helped Detroit Martin Luther King repeat as Division II state champions in 2016. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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