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More Jabrill Peppers? Yes, Please!
You may have heard down the grapevine that a certain five-star cornerback by the name of Jabrill Peppers committed to Michigan. It's kind of a big deal.
#Michigan picks up a commitment from 2014 Paramus (N.J.) Catholic five-star CB Jabrill Peppers (@jabrillpeppers). Unreal talent— Kyle Bogenschutz (@KyleBogie) May 26, 2013
247Sports has some juicy bits in their news release of his commitment:
Ranked by the 247Composite as the nation’s No. 3 recruit overall, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers becomes the highest-rated player to choose the Wolverines since the 247Composite has been tracking prospects going back to the 2002 recruiting class.
Recruited to play cornerback in Ann Arbor, Peppers visited Michigan for the first time back on April 3 and basically had his mind made up on the Maize and Blue from that point on.
"I felt it after the visit," Peppers told 247Sports on Saturday through a statement given to the network from his head coach Chris Partridge. "I grew up a Michigan fan and the opportunity to play for the program was one I couldn’t pass up. The direction of the program, we’re going to be competing for and winning National Championships."
Peppers also considered scholarships from the likes of LSU, Ohio State, Penn State and Stanford. He was recruited by Wolverines assistant coach Curt Mallory, and also built a strong relationship with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and head coach Brady Hoke.
Getting a guy like Peppers is also huge for the future members of the class (more on that later, see "The Peppers Effect" below). ESPN talked about Peppers' commitment with Tom VanHaaren:
Scout's Sam Webb also does an instant analysis that is well worth watching:
MGoBlog posted all kinds of delicious quotes on Peppers from various scouting sites, doing their best to temper their excitement.
Magnus at Touch the Banner was also impressed:
You can see from the scouting report that I really like Peppers's game. He is one of the top few prospects in the country - if not the absolute best - and looks to me like the top cornerback in the nation. He plays safety for the Paladins, so transitioning to college cornerback might take a little work. But the physical talent and coordination are sufficient for bumping to corner. Lots of high schools will put their best player at safety so he can affect the whole field, rather than putting him on one side and letting the opponent run or throw away from him.
You know a prospect is good when even Magnus(!) is getting excited. It was also the first time he dished out a "perfect 100" rating. Whoa!
Peppers' Announcement Came after Long Wait
Michigan fans across the nation went to their local Beef O' Brady's to order a soda and piss off their waitress, only to sit and wait for Jabrill Peppers' announcement on ESPNU. They were all disappointed to see a women's softball game on the network instead, waiting over an hour to finally see his announcement be aired.
Only to follow it up with this:
Is the celebration warranted? You're damn right it is:
To give you an idea of a career track, I'll cover the careers of other 247 composite Top 10 CBs over the years..although they're few and far between.
-->2013: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida. Obviously, he hasn't had much of a chance to make an impact yet. If you ever watched him play, though, you wouldn't bet against him.
-->2008: Patrick Peterson, LSU. One of the most prolific defenders and kick returners in the college football in recent history, Peterson went on to be drafted by the Cardinals with the 5th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He's already been to the Pro Bowl twice in his NFL career.
--> 2007: Eric Berry, Tennessee. A similarly electric player, Berry is largely recognized to be one of the best players in Tennessee's history. The man who won the Thorpe Award just a year before Peterson would also be drafted 5th overall, this time to the Chiefs. He has also cashed in 2 Pro Bowl seasons so far.
-->2004: Ted Ginn Jr, Ohio State. Switched to WR, and well you all know what he did in college.
The name Patrick Peterson sticks out above the rest. Please develop into the next Patrick Peterson, and sprinkle some Charles Woodson in there while you're at it.
In my opinion @jabrillpeppers is a guy who can step in and start right away. Could very well be the next Charles Woodson and than some.— BleedBlue Recruiting (@BBlueRecruiting) May 26, 2013
Jabrill is the real deal. He runs elite national track times in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, is easily strong enough to play running back and safety, has the ball skills of a high-level wide receiver and shows great field awareness on tape. He's also a great student who happens to be a legitimately talented musician:
"I would always hear about [Jabrill], and it was kind of like we let him do his thing and now he's surfacing on his own. That was the first time I had heard him rap, I didn't even know he had a crew like that," he said. "I watched the video and listened to the song and it is really good. Jabrill's song is like a throwback to '90's hip hop and I was like, ‘Wow, I'm really impressed.' "
Not exactly a shed-rapping status.
This little tidbit makes his commitment even sweeter:
Jabrill Peppers is the 6th Michigan commit (out of 10) to have held an OSU offer and visited their campus before committing to Michigan.— Mark Zakrajsek (@Mgobluegr) May 26, 2013
Remember when Urban Meyer was a shark in the Big Ten recruiting pond? Me either.
The Peppers Effect
Pulling in a five-star athlete isn't ever a bad thing in terms of the recruitment of other athletes. Tom VH agrees:
The commitment of Jabrill Peppers to Michigan will absolutely catch the eye of other prospects. That type of commitment is very valuable.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 26, 2013
How so? Players love playing next to other great players. This is especially true on defense, where players aren't competing for touches and are instead teaming up to destroy their opponents. Players who could see Michigan as more attractive with Peppers on board:
DE Da'Shawn Hand - Peppers actually knew he wanted to commit to Michigan immediately after visiting Michigan, and he told Michael Ferns something along the lines of "We have to get Hand!" It's a real possibility, especially now that it will take much longer for passers to find open receivers against the Wolverines. Michigan is your pass rushing heaven, Da'Shawn.
DT Andrew Brown - Brown is into the rap game much like Peppers. I haven't ever read anything about them talking, but I wouldn't be surprised if Brown took notice and visited Michigan as a result of it.
CB Parrker Westphal - Westphal is completely aware of the lone vacancy left at the cornerback position after Peppers' commitment; the pressure to commit to Michigan sooner rather than later could mount. Westphal is also a very versatile corner prospect who's capable of playing the corner, nickel and even safety spots, so the presence of a consensus five-star won't scare him one bit. Actually, playing next to another lock-down corner could be fun as hell.
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (2015) - Fitzpatrick is also a New Jersey native, and Peppers has been in his ear about Michigan. He's a four-star lock and will be one of the best corner prospects on the east coast in 2015.
Every other Michigan recruit will certainly hear about the team picking up a consensus five-star talent, so the impact of Peppers' commitment is really immeasurable. It's hard to measure the impact of the highest rated commitment in the history of the program (at least since 2002).
Does Michigan Have Staying Power at the Top?
You know Michigan's football program is stabilizing when fans are wondering if the Wolverines can hold onto the top spot in the recruiting rankings for consecutive years. It didn't happen in 2012 or 2013, but it looks like the class of 2014 has a chance at remaining the top overall class in this year's composite rankings. What the staff needs to accomplish to remain at the top:
- Pick up another five-star player, whether it be Da'Shawn Hand, John Smith, Adoree Jackson or anyone else. Classes can only be number one without multiple five-star talents if all but a few of its commitments are four-star players, and Michigan doesn't have quite that much depth.
- Secure four-star leans. This includes prospects like Malik McDowell, Parrker Westphal, one of K.J. Williams or Artavis Scott and Montae Nicholson.
- Don't offer sleepers who are destined to remain three-star players. Noah Furbush comes to mind here; the staff could put the pressure on him if Chase Winovich decides to become a Buckeye. Winovich is also a three-star player, but he's still worth more points in the recruiting world and could pick up a fourth star from one site or another.
- Go all SEC on your roster and start cutting everyone who tweaks an ankle. This isn't going to happen and will ultimately hold the class to around 18 players.
I don't see Michigan holding onto its top spot for two major reasons. First, the situations at running back and outside linebacker aren't extremely promising right now, and it looks like Michigan will take one player at both positions. Michigan would need four-star players at both positions to have even a remote chance of holding onto its top spot. Second, there's a high probability of this class remaining under 20 commitments, possibly even as low as 17, which would make it very difficult for the class to remain at the top. In my opinion, the staff will put together a relatively deep class that ends in the back end of the top five. The possibility of the class having the highest average star rating is high than it holding onto the overall ranking.
General Notes and Multimedia Items
Class of 2015 quarterback Josh Rosen should end up being a consensus five-star prospect. He made the mistake of putting his phone number on his highlight tape:
Got a text from Josh this morning saying the recruiting process is already starting to get crazy.
"I made the mistake of having my phone number on my highlight tape. I actually had a Michigan fan call me and tell me Go Blue; he said he got my number online. I have a ton of reporters and stuff calling me as it is."
The process can get ugly!
Don't ever do this. Ever.
Ian Bunting, Michigan's lone tight end commitment in the class of 2014, was listed as a player who was likely to receive a bump up to four-star status by Rivals not long ago. He skipped the Rivals Camp Series to attend prom, and never received his fourth star because, according to Rivals, he lacks motivation. That's stone cold on the recruiting network's part.
Check out Minkah Fitzpatrick's tape:
The young man shows BCS speed and fairly flexible hips for a corner with above average height.
Finally, incoming SAM linebacker Mike McCray is anxious to get to Ann Arbor:
27 more days until I start my new life at the best University in the world. #UofM #GOBLUE #TEAM134— ][\/][ikeMcCray II (@BIGPLAYMCCRAY9) May 26, 2013
I'm pretty sure half of my high school friends deleted me from their feed on Facebook four years ago when I counted down the days until Ann Arbor. Something tells me McCray won't have that problem.