On Feb. 1, thousands of high school athletes across the country signed their letters of intent. Cass Tech’s football team had the largest number of signees in Michigan. This year's Cass Tech team went undefeated and won a Division 1 state title under coach Thomas Wilcher.
Around noon, 13 members of the football team signed to play at schools from the Division II-level to the Power Five schools. The three technicians that signed and enrolled early; Donovan Peoples Jones (Michigan) and Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Michigan) and Rodney Hall (Northern Illinois) brought the total from Cass Tech to 16.
Linebacker DeSean Boyd committed to Eastern Michigan University. He initially wanted to attend King High School, but decided to go to Cass because his older sisters were already enrolled.
“High school football is family orientated," Boyd said. "Coach Wilcher was like a father figure. I will miss playing with my bros."
Offensive and Defensive tackle Jordan Reid, signed to Michigan State University. Reid transferred to CT during the second semester of his freshman year.
Varsity football head coach Thomas Wilcher signs to the University of Michigan for early enrollees Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jalen Kelly-Powell during National Signing Day held at the Horatio Williams Foundation in downtown Detroit.
“As a transfer from Chippewa Valley, I was determined to go to Cass from 16 mile to downtown until I got my license junior year," he said. "I rode the bus every morning to get here. It paid off because I had 26 offers from all over the country. I played in the Offensive – Defense game in Atlanta in December. I just know that the time coach Wilcher gives to the team and his dedication to the team is the reason most of us are successful in this game and prepared to compete on the college level."
Reid was a kicker when he transferred but his position changed as he grew in stature .
“I switched positions because I got bigger and coach Rosy and coach Sassy [offensive lineman coaches] thought it would be better,” said Reid.
Army All-American and Penn State commit Donovan Johnson played seven positions just this past season. Johnson chose Penn State because it is closer to home; a six-hour drive.
“It was between Penn State and Virginia Tech,” said Johnson.
In January, Johnson attended the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas along with Peoples-Jones. The two were a part of the winning team, the East.
“I played every other series. It was a cool experience with a lot of practices,” said Johnson.
Guard and Center Darico Ellis didn’t start playing football until his junior year, after English teacher Erika Jones encouraged him.
Wilcher told Ellis, “It’s about time.”
Ellis received two offers and will play for Central University in Ohio on a full scholarship.
Tackle Kelvin Ateman has been playing varsity since his sophomore year and Wilcher saw Ateman would play better at tackle, so he moved his position.
“It worked out for the better,” said Ateman. "Wilcher told me some realistic things about being successful in this game and my recruiting ranks increased as a result of it.”
The Class of 2017 was one of the largest classes of signees for Wilcher.
“That was a good number but I won’t be satisfied until I place all of my boys," Wilcher said. "They all work hard and all deserve to play in college.”