Recruiting & Scouting

Hundreds of football recruits attend Sound Mind Sound Body at Dakota, and attrack much attention

Football   | Scott Burnstein

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Last week, the renowned Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy entered its second decade of existence, showing why it’s turned into one of the elite offseason showcase camps in the entire country with a cavalcade of high-profile prep prospects and college coaches in attendance at the two-day event held at Macomb Dakota High School.

Sound Mind Sound Body staged its first camp in 2004. Over 1,500 players participated in this year’s two-day event. Having college football prospects from around the country flock to Metro Detroit for the camp that is part athletic, part educational program.

The in-state receiver crop impressed the scouts with its diversity. There were speedsters, excellent route-runners and guys with fine pass-catching ability.

“This could be the best group of receivers in the whole Midwest,” one Ohio State recruiter was heard commenting to another from Penn State.

Premier in-state pass-catchers such as Detroit King’s Donnie Corley and Ambry Thomas, Detroit Cass Tech’s Donovan Peoples-Jones and Dwight Blakey, West Bloomfield’s Trishton Jackson, Waterford Mott’s Dez Fitzpatrick, Ann Arbor Skyline’s Hunter Rison, Chelsea’s Bailey Edwards and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s’ K.J. Hamler all made appearances.

“We had everything you could want at the position, those scouts were licking their chops,” said event counselor and Southfield Bradford coach Ki’erre Gaut, who took a group of receivers through drills on Friday that included Corley, Blakey, Jackson, Fitzpatrick and Edwards.

Fitzpatrick, a recent transfer from Farmington to Mott, was the only of the aforementioned players to have committed to a college. The crafty 6-foot-2, 180-pounder committed to Louisville back in the winter. Corley (6-2, 190) and Peoples-Jones (6-2, 190) are four-star recruits and the two most sought-after wide outs in Michigan. Corley has 40 major Division I college scholarship offers. Peoples-Jones, who will be a junior in the fall, can boast 20.

Despite not needing the exposure, Corley saw this two-day experience as crucial to his offseason.

“This is the best camp around, I want to learn as much as I can,” he said. “The offers and looks aren’t as important to me as the overall experience and the kind of coaching and teaching you get.”

Slot receivers, Thomas (5-10, 160) and Blakey (5-9, 155) might be No. 2 options in their respective teams’ passing attacks, playing in the large shadows of Corley and Peoples-Jones, however, they both have seen their recruiting stock raise in the past couple weeks and scooped Mid-American Conference offers at Sound Mind Sound Body. Jackson, a starting quarterback last year for West Bloomfield and a fine combo guard on the basketball court, turned heads with his hands and instincts in receiver drills, garnering a scholarship offer from Iowa. 

Rison (5-11, 180) will be a junior and is the son of Andre Rison. Rison capped off his experience with a commitment to Michigan State, his father’s alma mater. Edwards (6-2, 190) looked good, too. He’s the younger brother of retired NFL receiver Braylon Edwards and the son of former Michigan running back Stanley Edwards. Hamler (5-9, 155) is the highest-rated receiver in the Catholic League and one of the most dynamic slot receivers in the state, as he displayed in helping lead St. Mary’s to a Division 3 state title as a sophomore last year.

Tight end prospects Thomas Kithier (Macomb Dakota) and Tamarion Johnson (Bradford) represented a few lesser-known recruits who did well in receiving drills. Kithier (6-7, 220) is an emerging basketball star as well. Johnson also plays on the defensive line and picked up his and the program’s first Division I scholarship offer from Toledo and Miami (OH).

“I’m setting the bar high for myself and I want to do the same for the Bradford program,” Johnson said. “Making a positive impression at a camp like this is a big step in the right direction.”

U-M coach Jim Harbaugh, MSU coach Mark Dantonio and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer all spoke to the camp on Friday.