Hand, Peppers Fending off the Nation
Da'Shawn Hand and Jabrill Peppers hold the top two spots in Rivals' rankings, and they're both in the top five of the 247 Composite. They'll both be in contention for the top spot:
The field certainly has gained ground on Da'Shawn Hand's top spot in the Rivals100. Cameron Robinson, Quin Blanding, Marlon Humphrey, Leonard Fournette, Adoree' Jackson and a few others had solid and sometimes spectacular offseasons to make a strong case for No. 1. Jabrill Peppers is firmly in the mix and did not help or hurt his case by not participating in any offseason camps. While all of these players are sure to have very productive senior seasons, Hand's grip on No. 1 is slipping, and he could have lost the slot during the summer. Stay tuned.
In my opinion, Hand, Peppers and Fournette are the top three players in the country. Rivals wants you to think that Peppers has competition for the top corner ranking:
New Jersey's Peppers held the top spot in the cornerback rankings going into the summer, but four of the next five highest-rated cornerback prospects on the list -- California's Jackson, Alabama's Humphrey, Washington D.C.'s Jalen Tabor and Detroit's Damon Webb -- battled head-to-head at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June. Each solidified his spot among the nation's best at the position with an outstanding performance. As a group, they confirmed that this is one of the deepest classes at the position in the last decade. The discussions about who should be in which order were fairly long.
Jabrill is easily the best of the bunch, so this is will remain a battle for second place.
Peppers is already committed to Michigan, with Hand being considered a Michigan lean. Wilton Speight would like to get Hand out on the golf course before the Under the Lights contest:
Hey @TheHand54 , lets go play a round of golf together before the ND game!— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) August 18, 2013
Don't expect Speight to keep his streak of commitments following golf outings to continue.
Strong 2015 Cornerback Class
Michigan has assembled a solid defensive backfield, and it's already in on some great talent in the class of 2015. Here are the Michigan targets from 247 Sports' rundown of the talented crop of young pass defenders:
Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) stands 6-foot-1, 186 pounds and is the latest elite prospect from powerhouse Poly. Marshall's height certainly makes him rare, but his ability to lock down quicker receivers is what makes him potentially elite. Early Crystal Ball predictions have USC and ace recruiter Tee Martin landing Marshall. UCLA, Cal, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Tennessee, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin round out his known offer list. Marshall also was one of a handful of underclassmen invited to The Opening this past June/July on the Nike Campus.
Another taller, 2015 cornerback, Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) also was invited to The Opening. The 6-foot, 185-pounder holds a slew of scholarship offers from programs up and down the east coast including Miami, North Carolina, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, Wisconsin and South Carolina, among others.
Finally, don't forget about Brian Cole (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage). The 6-foot-2 cover corner is one of the best athletes in the Midwest this cycle and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State appear to be in the best shape at this early stage. Crystal Ball currently favors the Spartans at 58 percent. The hiring of Curtis Blackwell on staff at Michigan State has tipped the scales in-state in favor of the Spartans on a number of top 2015 prospects. Talent-wise, Cole is an intriguing prospect given his size and fluid ability in coverage. Like McGraw, you could see him end up at safety when all is said and done, but right now he's projected as a corner.
Shaun Crawford (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) rounds out the top 10 2015 cycle cornerbacks per 247Composite. What the 5-foot-8, 173-pound Crawford lacks in height, he makes up for with speed and athleticism. There are 23 early Crystal Ball predictions for Crawford and 22 have gone for Michigan.
Marshall probably won't end up at Michigan, while Cole and Fitzpatrick could. Cole already holds an offer and is capable of playing on both sides of the ball. Fitzpatrick is waiting on an offer from Michigan and is strictly a corner.
Rutgers Amassing Talent
The Big East transplant has made strides in the recruiting world, picking up four-star recruits Adonis Jennings, Kiy Hester, Saeed Blacknall and Jonathan Hilliman in recent weeks. Jabrill Peppers noticed:
Chill... Im a Michigan Man all the way! But Rutgers is in the back of my mind.. Cause I know I'll be playing them in a couple years! #GoBlue— Breezy (@JabrillPeppers) August 16, 2013
The Scarlet Knights will pose more of a challenge now that they're picking up offensive talent.
General Notes and Multimedia Items
Derrick Green hasn't taken a snap at the college level just yet, but Rivals still sees him as the fourth-best five-star prospect to come out of Virginia. Former Florida Gator Percy Harvin tops the list.
George Campbell, Drake Harris, Mason Cole, Michael Ferns and Jabrill Peppers are all on USA Today's All-American High School Team. Michigan has more commitments on the team than anyone else.