In today’s fast-paced recruiting world, few prospects have the luxury of moving at their own speed if they want all of their options still available when decision time comes. Only a select few can wait with little concern over their spots being given away. That explains the collective surprise over Jabrill Peppers' recent decision to speed up his timetable. For his part, the Paramus (NJ) Catholic star doesn’t see the need to drag things out if he already has a pretty good idea which schools suit him best.
“(Recruiting) is definitely is getting outrageous now,” said Peppers. “I didn’t really think it would get like this. I wanted to wait until after my year, but… I feel good about the decision that I’m going to make. And just when I make it it’ll take a huge weight off my shoulders so I can focus on school my senior year and more importantly this upcoming football season. We’re ready to make noise, and that’s my main priority. Everything is getting pretty hectic right now, so I’m just trying to move that (Stanford) visit up and make the decision in June. After the Stanford visit I feel that as though I will know. I have a pretty good feel on the other schools that I have on the board.”
Stanford is the most distant program on Peppers’ list of finalists, but he continues to insist that location won’t be a factor in his final decision. That’s because he is placing greater emphasis on the criteria that will affect him far beyond the next four years of his life.
“Definitely the academics, the ball play, the way the people are, how the coaches are, how the coaches are with the players, and how the players are with the coaches,” said Peppers of the traits he is looking at most in a school. “National exposure because I want to play on television. A coach that is going to coach me hard. That’s mainly it. Climate and distance are not factors because like I told you, I have dreams of playing in the league, and the league is all over. You have New England, which is freezing. You go down to Miami, which is hot. I’m not going to worry about weather or distance.”
That approach gives Stanford, his one-time clear favorite, a legitimate shot at earning his commitment in the coming months. However, if the Cardinal is to do so it will have to match or surpass a Michigan visit experience that still resonates weeks after it occurred.
“Everything caught me by surprise,” admitted Peppers. “It is no secret that I grew up a Michigan fan. Obviously, I had high hopes for the visit, but they clearly exceeded those. Just everything, I was just like ‘wow’. I don’t want to give too much away (laugher), but it was a good visit.”
It wasn’t the “red carpet treatment” that allowed the Wolverines to set the visit standard by which others are now being measured. Turns out, it was exact opposite.
“Real recognize real,” Peppers said matter-of-factly. “That’s the shortest and sweetest way you can say it. Real recognize real. They didn’t put on a show and they just kept it 100. Basically who they are -- they remind me of my coaches right now. That’s how comfortable we felt there. It was like wow, it was like we were still at (Paramus Catholic). That was the main thing, just the comfort level and just how down-to-earth those guys are. How they are with their players. They coach you hard and just everything. It was a great visit.”
Clearly Peppers’ teammate, Juwan Bushell-Beatty thought so too, as evidenced by his commitment to Michigan yesterday. Shortly thereafter the big 6-7, 330 lb. lineman began putting in a good word for his future team.
“Me and ‘Big Sexy’ talk all the time. It was different for him because he is a left tackle and they have a lot of tackles out there. He thought this was the right spot for him. He is doing a little recruiting thing, but you know how that goes. It is all fun. We will just have to wait and see how this thing goes (for me).”
By looks of it, Bushell-Beatty already has a few allies in trying to ensure it goes Michigan’s way.
The obvious question is have they been effective? Is Michigan now out front as he enters the home stretch?
Replied Peppers, “Ha ha… we’ll just have to wait and see, now won’t we.”