2014 Prospect Profile: Jabrill Peppers

USA TODAY Sports

Michigan has a need for an elite corner in the class of 2014, and New Jersey cornerback Jabrill Peppers fits that mold. Who is in the fold for the young defensive back, and what will he bring to the team of his choice?

Breakdown

Peppers is one of those athletes who came out of the womb with a full 8-pack, already bench pressing 225 pounds. He stands at 6'1", 205 pounds, and not an ounce of that weight is unclean. The vast majority of college football prospects have major work to do in the weight room when they arrive on campus, but Peppers will be bigger and stronger than most of his competition the day he walks in. Blake Countess, Raymon Taylor and the rest of the Michigan cornerbacks are all probably slower and weaker than Jabrill, despite having been in a college weight training program for multiple years. Such is life.

Some scouting services mark Peppers as an athlete; he could play halfback, receiver, cornerback or safety at the next level. Most scouts agree that he belongs at corner, where he can use his true 4.4 speed and elite strength to remove receivers from the game.

Peppers' game at corner isn't too polished, as he plays safety and running back for his team much more often than corner: the best athlete on a high school team almost always ends up playing those two positions. He might be the fastest corner in his class, constantly closing on receivers as the ball arrives. He flashes above average hands and ball skills and can rise high enough to make a play on any ball around 11 feet in the air, which is pretty impressive. He runs mostly man coverage and will need time to learn more complex zone systems at the next level. Tackling isn't a problem for him, breaking down in the open field and smashing kids down when he gets the chance. His strength is far too much for the average ball carrier to handle, and he's too fast for anyone to outrun him.

Personally, Peppers was once a lost young man in the heart of New Jersey. He saw his fair share of crime, and is too ashamed to talk about what he got into:

Ask about his upbringing, and he talks about some of the things he dealt with daily in East Orange, which is located just west of Newark in between Paterson and Elizabeth. He has been in his share of fights, hung with the wrong crowd.

"Oh man, I've seen people get stabbed, shot, beat up," Peppers said. "Saw my boys steal cars then crash into a light pole, other things at night, seeing guys selling the illegal products."

But ask about specifics, some of the things he has taken part in, and he clams up. He answers quickly. That smile so many people love to talk about leaves his face. He wants to move on to the next question.

"Too much to name that I got away with because of my athleticism," Peppers said. "I don't want to say too much more on that, but too much that I'm ashamed with."

He attended Don Bosco Prep before transferring to Paramus Catholic High. He lost his brother in 2010 and grew up for years without his father, who was imprisoned on weapons charges in 2007. To say that he has been through hell would be an understatement.

Recruitment

It's useless to list an offer sheet for a five-star player like Peppers. He will take unofficial visits to Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Alabama over the spring, and he recently visited Penn State. Ohio State and Stanford are the presumed leaders as of now, although his recruitment is far from over. Brady Hoke and Curt Mallory have both visited Peppers, along with countless other coaches from the schools he plans on visiting over the spring.

Peppers' checkered past has led to him becoming a much stronger student; he's currently working toward a 4.0 high school GPA. Academics will play a major role in his recruitment:

When he meets with college coaches, he is not worried about whether they will play him at cornerback or running back. He's asking about academics, the faculty and the school's graduation rates for black athletes.

"He does everything the right way," Paramus Catholic coach Charlie Partridge said. "He does the right thing in the classroom, is respectful to everyone and treats everyone like one another -- doesn't put one person above another. He's helped mesh our football program and the community."

It's no surprise that he's giving Stanford so much consideration.

Prognostication

Jabrill will most likely end up at a school with a combination of elite academics and coaching. Alabama doesn't offer too much academically, but the rest of the schools on his top list offer elite degrees and solid coaching. Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame will all have a shot here, but at the end of the day I think he ends up at Stanford.

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