Peoples-Jones' Proving Doubters Wrong With Career Day

donovan peoples-jones michigan touchdown celebration

Peoples-Jones' Proving Doubters Wrong With Career Day

Football

Peoples-Jones' Proving Doubters Wrong With Career Day

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A lot was expected of former five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones when he arrived at Michigan, but some had been concerned that he hadn’t lived up to the hype.

Well, the non-believers just converted.

Peoples-Jones, who only had one receiving touchdown before Saturday’s 45-20 victory over SMU, pulled in three catches in the end zone, to go along with 90 yards of production.

While a career day would normally be cause to celebrate the personal achievement, Peoples-Jones remained humble after the game, deferring to it being a great team win over the Mustangs.

“That’s a great statistic, but I’m more happy about the win,” Peoples-Jones said. “(And with) how our team fought today.”

In 2017, Peoples-Jones had 22 receptions for 277 yards. He came into Michigan raw and unrefined when it came to route running and getting separation from college-level defensive backs.

Perhaps one of the big differences has been new wide receivers coach Jim McElwain, who came aboard after three years as the head coach of Florida. Perhaps it was just getting a year of experience under his belt.

His quarterback, Shea Patterson, says that really, Peoples-Jones has the talent. And as they’ve continued to build rapport on the field, good things are going to keep coming.

“He’s a freak athlete,” Patterson said. “I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do. Very smart. Very smart and very fast. Very football savvy as well. If I throw it up, I’ve just gotta put it in his vicinity. There’s a lot of trust in him.”

A frequently mentioned tagline emanating from Schembechler Hall has been ‘you get better at football by playing football,’ with another being ‘you can’t teach experience.’

Well, Peoples-Jones now has both, and it’s paying dividends.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of Saturday’s game is that fourth-year tight end Zach Gentry also had a career day, reeling in four catches for 95 yards — leading all receivers. But it took Gentry awhile to get to this point.

When it comes to Peoples-Jones’ sudden emergence through the past two games, Gentry says that both of those aforementioned maxims are a big reason why Peoples-Jones is finally seeing talent translate into on-field execution.

Those who were writing him off so early were doing so prematurely, Gentry says.

“I think people forget he’s young,” Gentry said. “I remember coming in as a freshman, and – there was no way. It was a whirlwind. Him playing young, you see a big leap from the first year to the second year and so on. Everybody gets better every year. It wasn’t that he didn’t really know what he was doing, but he’s just kind of taken the initiative, taken that step to make sure it’s perfected.”

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