Recruiting & Scouting

Michigan State looks toward the 2017 class for big-play, big-time receivers

Football   | Scott Burnstein

Michigan State looks toward the 2017 class for big-play, big-time receivers

East Lansing – Michigan State is looking to bolster its offense as coach Mark Dantonio and his staff are targeting a series of in-state recruits for the 2017 recruiting class. Specifically, they are zeroing in on big-play receivers.

Junior wide outs Donovan Peoples-Jones (Detroit Cass Tech), Ambry Thomas (Detroit King) and K.J. Hamler (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s). They all hold scholarship offers. Thomas and Hamler will be at the Spartans home opener against Oregon on Sept. 12.

Peoples-Jones, a true split end at 6-2, is the No. 1 receiver in the state’s Class of 2017, according to ESPN and is in no rush to commit, despite the Spartans’ full-court press in search of his talents.

“I’m taking my time, I’ve got several schools I’m interested in,” he said. “I don’t want to push things too fast, this will be the most important decision in my life. I'll probably take my visits after the season is over.” 

Of the smaller variety (under six feet), Thomas and Hamler are shifty slot receivers with soft hands and sprinter speed. Both are four-star recruits and each brought home MVP honors in their respective team wins in the annual Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State last Saturday. King rallied to beat defending Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle 12-10 and St. Mary’s topped Detroit Loyola 24-12.

Hamler snagged his Michigan State scholarship offer last summer. Against De La Salle, Thomas, who got his last month, caught a screen pass and completed a 50-yard touchdown play for King’s first score.

“Michigan State likes both of those guys a lot, they’re especially hot on Thomas who has really come on strong this past offseason,” said’s Allen Trieu of the Spartans interest in Thomas and Hamler. “Ambry really stood out in the De La Salle game. Hamler can be a killer underneath or going deep.”

In addition to MSU, Thomas holds power-conference scholarship offers from Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, LSU, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee.

“Michigan State, Michigan, LSU, Arkansas and Tennessee are my favorites right now,” he said. “The Michigan State and Michigan coaching staffs have been good to me. I really like Harbaugh and Dantonio. But I want to visit schools down south as well. I’ll be visiting LSU in September. So, I guess we’ll see what happens.”

Hamler has been offered a scholarship offers from MSU, Michigan, Indiana, Cincinnati, Louisville, Penn State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Another pair of emerging receivers in this class is Walled Lake Western’s Cody White and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s’ Richard Bowens, also being looked at as a cornerback. Insiders indicate both might be getting scholarship offers from the Spartans soon.

The athletic, 6-3 White (son of retired NFL defensive back Sheldon White), faced double coverage in Western’s season-opening 42-40, edging of Lowell on the road, however, still managed four receptions catches for 92 yards, including a fine over-the-shoulder grab. He just scooped his first power-conference scholarship offer earlier this month from Wisconsin.

This is Bowens’ first varsity season yet he already has scholarship offers from Minnesota and Cincinnati. He’s been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and turned heads at Michigan State's camp this summer.