I got the chance to speak with 2014 Rivals #2 overall player Jabrill Peppers, following his unofficial visit to Michigan this past weekend. The junior dominated for Paramus (NJ) Catholic, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, catching 5 more, while adding 77 tackles and 3 picks on defense. Despite the success, the Charles Woodson comparisons, and the jam-packed off-season, Jabrill remains humble and focused on an even stronger senior season. He kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about his training, goals, and thoughts on his visit to Ann Arbor. Make sure to take a look at the attached video links of Jabrill taking his training to a different level.
Coming off an amazing junior year, how are you preparing for your senior season?
“To be even better, to be bigger, smarter, faster, and make it real tough for everyone in the country.”
Any part of your game that you feel you need to fine tune or improve on?
“Yes, definitely, my cornerbacking skills. From down to my stance, pedal, footwork, my breaks on the ball, hand eye coordination. Things I really need, the fundamentals. In college there is not going to be that much of a difference between talent and speed, so it’s really going to be the fundamentals that set you apart.”
What are some of the things you are doing to improve on those fundamentals?
“Ladders, fitness ball work, repetition in my backpedal, really a lot of repetition in my breaks. Making sure that the defense we run is engraved in my head because when you know what you’re doing, you play faster and you have a better feel of the game.”
Tell me a little bit about your off-season training at Total Nunziato Training (TNT) and how it’s helping you elevate your game?
“TNT is really helping me. There is a great group of trainers that really hone in on what you need to do to be better. They focus on where you need to be at and the process they can help you with to get there. They really push you to your maximum limit and get the full potential out of you and take you to places that you can’t take yourself.”
What stood out the most from your Michigan trip this past weekend?
“I loved it, it definitely was not what I expected. I expected it to be good but not as great as it was. I really loved all of the coaches and everything about that place. Down from the players and even the students, it was a really friendly place. Academics, they’re the number seventeen university in the nation academically, so that’s really huge for me.”
I caught the picture of you and Denard Robinson from the weekend in Ann Arbor. Can you elaborate on any of the other guys you met out there or coaches that you met with?
“I got a chance to meet [John] Beilein, the head basketball coach. I pretty much met the whole basketball team, from Trey Burke to Hardaway Jr, Mitch Mcgary, so that was pretty cool before the national championship game.”
Did you get to check some of spring ball practice out?
“Yeah, I got to see them practice. Very intense, reminds me of our practice, a lot of hitting, a lot of fundamentals. Everything is run to a “T”, they are never off schedule, and they really get after their guys in practice making them the best they can be.”
We hear a lot about cornerback, and you mentioned working on your cornerback skills before. Have the Michigan coaches talked to you about a position if you were to attend the school? And what position would you prefer to play?
“I am definitely going to go to college to be a defensive back, and there were some talks about getting me a package on offense. Getting to play a little offense and returning some punts and kicks, whatever I can do. My goal is to win the Heisman as a true freshman, and to be the first player to ever do that, and I will do whatever it takes to accomplish that.”
Coming off a state championship season at Paramus Catholic, what are some of your goals as a team and personally?
“Well the number one goal is not losing any games, and to win a national championship. We have enough national powers on our schedule for us to obtain that goal. Every game is going to be a war so we really need to fine tune our bodies this off-season to prepare for that. It is really the most important thing. There are no cupcake games this year. We really want to repeat in the state as well. 12-0 is the goal. For me, I just want to be better than last year. I want to be a better leader and be able to take over the game more than I could do last year. Everyone says even from my sophomore year that I wouldn’t get better, so I topped my sophomore year. Now we are just going to do the same thing, just my drive, the people and coaches I surround myself with that push me. We are all just really hungry, we know we have the opportunity to do something great that has never happened before. We are definitely excited and ready to go.”
In terms of commitment, I know some players like to get everything squared away before their senior season, while others prefer the highly anticipated hat ceremony at the last minute. Do you have an idea of when you will be comfortable making your announcement?
“I’m definitely going to wait until after the season. My team and our goals are the most important thing right now. We should have about 8-12 guys on our team that can go Division I, so I’m going to have a commitment party. I want to get everyone together and have the media there, so we all can make our announcements then.”