Weight: 202 lbs.
High school: Paramus (NJ) Catholic
Position: Defensive back
Jersey number: #5
Last year: Peppers was a senior in high school. He had 57 tackles and 4 interceptions.
Final TTB Rating: 100
With the vast amounts of recruiting coverage these days - four major websites, nationally televised all-star games, nationally televised workouts and touch football, and numerous blogs including this one - it's only natural that recruiting hype surpasses that of which occurred five or more years ago. Inflation even taken into account, Peppers might be the most hyped recruit in Michigan history. His high school games were nationally televised, his announcement was nationally televised, and I even had a defensive back the other day say he wanted to be like Jabrill Peppers. Just for a refresher course on his ratings as a prospect, let's take a look:
ESPN: 5-star, #1 cornerback, #2 overall
Rivals: 5-star, #1 cornerback, #3 overall
Scout: 5-star, #1 cornerback, #3 overall
247 Sports: 5-star, #1 athlete, #4 overall
During the Rivals era (since 2002), Peppers is Michigan's highest-ranked commit. Next is quarterback Ryan Mallett (#4 in 2007) and then linebacker Prescott Burgess (#6 in 2003).
As for his accomplishments on the field, Peppers and his Don Bosco team won state championships when he was a freshman and sophomore. Then he transferred to Paramus Catholic prior to his junior year, where he and his team won state championships when he was a junior and senior. As one might expect, he was a do-it-all player at Paramus Catholic, where he played quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback, safety, and returner. He did them all well. He was an Under Armour All-American. And by the way, he won the state championship in the 100 meters with a time of 10.52 seconds and holds the state record in the 200 meters with a time of 20.79 seconds.
What should we expect from him on the field in 2014? Nobody really has a clue. Head coach Brady Hoke insists they'll start him off as a nickel corner. Jabrill Peppers has reportedly told people he'll play safety. Hoke doesn't want to give him too much responsibility right off the bat. Peppers has said that he'll do whatever the coaches ask, but that he's looking forward to being used on both sides of the ball at some point. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that he will be given a chance to return kickoffs and punts, but will he beat out incumbent Dennis Norfleet for the kick return job? Can he nab the punt return job from the guys jostling to replace Jeremy Gallon?
The best way for me to go about predicting his season is to break it down position-by-position:
Kickoff return: Peppers will be out there alongside Dennis Norfleet from week one.
Punt return: The coaches will play it safe with a more experienced player (Norfleet, Jourdan Lewis, Blake Countess) to start the year. Peppers might get a chance depending on how sure-handed those guys are.
Wide receiver: Peppers will start seeing some offensive snaps midway through the season.
Slot corner: Peppers will get his feet wet as the fourth cornerback behind Countess, Lewis, and Raymon Taylor. By the end of the season, he will be starting at . . .
Strong safety: Peppers's playmaking ability is too difficult to keep off the field, and Delano Hill/Dymonte Thomas aren't exactly established veterans themselves.
Let's once again enjoy his senior highlights:
The only highlight reel that is even in the same league as this, at least from the last few years, is Su'a Cravens'. It is unreal how many different things Peppers does at an elite level. I think your write-up definitely reflects that.ReplyDelete
Some agrees and some disagrees. On kick returns, I think we're more likely to see Peppers on punts, as long as his hands are sure. Norfleet, surprisingly, has done better on kickoffs, despite having the kind of Breaston-y close in elusiveness that you'd think would make him more effective as a punt returner. I'm still sticking to my hope that Drake Johnson gets a look at KOR, since he's got the straight ahead speed that you like to see there, and some size (whether he has the instincts and the ability to read blocking is another matter).ReplyDelete
On defense, yes, I think we'll see him at nickel corner to start, fairly early on in the season. I think he'd be great at SS eventually, though I'd be a bit disappointed if neither Thomas or Hill were good enough to grab that spot. Having two five star guys and a four in line at one position seems like a waste. He might be good enough later in the season to grab a starting CB spot away from Taylor. In the end, I think it will take at least through the NC season for the best combination of 4-5 DBs to sort itself out, but hopefully by the second half of the season, our lineup back there will be pretty well settled. There appears to be plenty of talent, or at least potential, it's just a matter of getting the best guys on the field together.
On offense...I think there should be no offense. For at least his freshman year, the coaches should have him concentrating solely on defense. We're going to have 8-10 guys competing for playing time at receiver, plus the TEs. Why distract him mentally and physically from learning the defense just so he can be the 11th? True, he might end up being better than the worst of those, but he'd still be unlikely to make an important contribution as a pass catcher. Our defense is what really needs shoring up, so let him focus on that, at least for 2014.
I think it's easier to argue he won't make an impact on the defense, which is loaded with experience and you players who looked promising in 2013, than on offense - which is mostly inexperienced and unexceptional. If he's to play defense it's because of HIM, and the team's long-term interests, not the makeup of the 2014 roster.Delete
Well, I'm not sure who in the defensive backfield would count as both experienced and exceptional. Maybe Countess. Taylor has experience, but he's very replaceable, and Lewis and Stribling have only been here a year and have never started. Ditto for Thomas and Hill. Wilson is also nothing amazing, though I doubt we'll be turning Peppers loose at FS right away, no matter how athletically talented he is. Peppers could very well slide into a starting spot by the end of the season. I don't see him starting at WR ahead of Funchess, Darboh, Chesson or Canteen. And in the end, our defense needs more impact players far worse than the offense.Delete
UM could definitely use a "face of the program" type player. The defense is kind of a no-name bunch right now. Peppers does not have to start on offense. But getting him some snaps here or there (i.e., wildcat QB, slot reverses, etc.) will really get media talking. Normally, I am not one to advocate programs pushing star players. But I think UM is at a point where they just need some mojo, and having a stud player who is nationally hyped would be a much needed shot in the arm.Delete
If you set the bar at "experienced and exceptional" you have few guys, but at least there is experienced and promising. On offense you don't have anyone other than Gardner. Even Funchess is changing positions (kinda).Delete
I would say Ryan and Countess are impact players. Offensively we have Gardner and Funchess. Next tier down on D you have tons of returning starters: Ross, Clark, Morgan who are, at worst, above average. Then people like Beyer and Taylor who are solid. Offensively there is no next tier down. Butt, if he was healthy would be there, but he isn't.
I'm watching BIG icons featuring Woodson and praying Peppers is even close to thatReplyDelete
So looking forward to his development. I also love the fact that he also has a good head on his shoulders -- not a typical jock prone to do dumb things. I love it. Hopely he can live up to the hype and we'll be watching a lot of exciting football games.ReplyDelete
Hopefully Peppers continues his streak of state championships and Michigan beats MSU for the next 3 years.ReplyDelete
The only guy that I can remember who was probably more hyped than Peppers is Henson. Henson had the advantage of being a quarterback, being a (maybe the) top HS baseball prospect in the country, and also living in Michigan (after moving from Utah I believe.) At the time, it was assumed he would take over very quickly at QB.ReplyDelete
The internet wasn't a big factor back then, but everyone who followed Michigan football knew about Henson before he hit campus and expectations were sky high.
I think it would probably be silly to put Peppers in as punt returner, unless he just knocks everybody's socks off. That job is mostly about being sure-handed and not screwing up. Peppers has more value to us elsewhere, IMO.ReplyDelete
Returning kickoffs seems like an obvious role for him for day one. Nickel corner is very logical, context aside, but the reality on the roster right now is that we have an opening at safety, so that's where Peppers' best opportunity is. He also has the size for it.
It'll be fun to see what the coaches decide and what he can do.
With the modern spread punt formations and a good chunk of kick-offs going for touchbacks now, I'm not sure that it is a priority to have your star players doing returns anymore. At least, it is not the priority that it was ten years ago. Punts especially have turned into pop-fly practice, since most punts are fair-caught now. I like the idea of having a guy who is not a full-time positional player (like Norfleet) concentrate on returning kicks.Delete
I agree. I have doubts about short guys in this role, but Gallon was very good at it.Delete
Norfleet has been concentrating mostly on returning kicks, but he still had issues catching punts. I still think punt returners can be game-changers, and while I agree that I'd rather have a sure-handed guy back there than a lightning-in-a-bottle guy (for example, I'd rather have had Dileo back there than Norfleet), Peppers could possibly be both. If he's sure-handed, there's no reason not to give him a chance to return 1 punt a game and fair catch the others.Delete
I really believe that Peppers could turn the Ohio rivalry back in our favor. When Tressel was hired he knew he had a good team but always got a player that was the difference. Clarett was a beast and he was there first, then Santonio Holmes, Ted Gin Jr., and Pryor. Troy Smith was a suprise. So, I say these names because without these guys we were even, especially look at Ginn, his speed and return ability changed 2 games that could have went our way. I know the coaches wanna ease him in but vs. the good teams we need to play him on offense too because he is a game changer. Give him 5-10 plays at least.ReplyDelete
I am hopeful that this is the case. Peppers is a really important player for multiple reasons. Even beyond his individual contributions, have a star DB could elevate the play/confidence of the entire defense. And a lot of national people will be keeping an eye on him. If he plays well, that will generate good buzz for the program. Also, UM needs a new stud DB for Mattison to reference when he is selling the program to recruits. "I see you as the next Charles Woodson" is getting a little worn out, and we are coming up on 20 years since he played. Peppers is coming in with a ton of hype. So if he plays well at all, he'll be a household name nationally before long.Delete
Ok, I gotta ask. Is it that Cornerbacks are exempt from your opinion that position switches backwards typically fail, or is it that you think Pepper's is just too good to not succeed, wherever he goes lines up?ReplyDelete
Cornerbacks/safeties are roughly equivalent. I don't consider that a backward move. It's more just a lateral one.Delete
Slightly different question. Is that rule applied categorically? Or do you look at Thomas as being an exception due to his high school playing him as a LB. Obviously it has hurt his coverage abilities.Delete
As an aside, I used to be built a lot like that ..... before the operation.ReplyDelete
Wherever he lands, I hope they find that spot right away and stick with it. I don't want to be here two years from now with Peppers not having done much, listening to how we have to be "patient" as he learns his new position.ReplyDelete