Donovan Peoples-Jones departed Notre Dame on Saturday with fresh perspective.
Talks with head coach Brian Kelly and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock helped. But perhaps nothing interested the four-star wide receiver from Detroit more than a conversation with the team surgeon as part of the Junior Day event.
Peoples-Jones spoke with Brian Ratigan, who played at Notre Dame before becoming the program’s go-to orthopedic surgeon. That conversation highlighted what the Irish wanted to show off the field.
“Really just the type of academic opportunity and support they have at the school,” Peoples-Jones said. “Then really the connections with their alumni base. They had me meet with the team doctor, who went into what I wanna go in. That was very unique. That was a good experience talking to him. He played football and went on to be a doctor. That’s kinda the same path I want to take.”
Notre Dame hosted Peoples-Jones along with Cass Tech High teammate Jaylen Kelly-Powell, a four-star safety.
Both went through the entire Junior Day circuit, from campus tours to academic presentations and position meetings. Peoples-Jones broke down film with Denbrock for a little while and talked football in general.
“Any time I get to learn from a coach of that caliber it’s great,” Peoples-Jones said. “They know a lot, have been coaching for a lot of years and know what it takes to get to the NFL. It’s a great meeting when you get to talk to people like that. I just really appreciate it. I had a good time.”
Kelly also checked in during the visit, as did defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, the area recruiter.
Gilmore has longstanding connections to the Detroit area in general and Cass Tech in particular as his grandson used to play there. Developing relationships with the other coaches, however, was key to this trip.
“That was very important,” Peoples-Jones said. “They’re considering you and you’re considering them. You need to be very comfortable with all the coaches they have that you might be with potentially for the next four years. That’s an important part of the recruiting process.”
Notre Dame showed enough to solidify its place in the top 10 Peoples-Jones recently released. Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC also made the cut.
“They’re in my top 10,” Peoples-Jones said. “I don’t really have an order to my top 10.”
Peoples-Jones will now visit Michigan State the rest of this weekend and Ohio State next week. He hopes to have enough information by the end of spring to start cutting down his list even farther then take another round of visits.
“I want to have maybe a top five going into the summer,” Peoples-Jones said. “I’ll use the summer to go on some more in-depth, detailed visits. Then maybe a commitment around fall maybe. Whenever I’m most comfortable. I think I’m gonna be enrolling early. It’s just really whenever I feel the most comfortable.”