A Star Sighting: Peppers Emerges

GBW's Josh Newkirk reflects on seeing Peppers in action for the first time as a sophomore and his journey in his Michigan recruitment. W/Video Highlights.

On Oct. 8, 2011, I was sent on assignment to check out the game of the week: No.1 Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep vs. No. 5 St. Edwards (Ohio).

It looked good on paper, but never lived up to the hype, as Bosco cruised to a easy, 38-7, victory over St. Edward's and finished the season (11-0) as the No. 1 team in both the USA Today and National Prep poll rankings.

The game featured multiple BCS talent. As St. Edward's was led by current U-M lineman, Kyle Kalis, and Don Bosco countered with then U-M target at cornerback, Yuri Wright (Colorado), and other notable future BCS signees in Elijah Shumate (Notre Dame), Leontee Caroo (Rutgers), Darius Hamilton (Rutgers), and Alquadin Mahammad (Miami, FL).

But one player stood above the rest. His name was Jabrill Peppers, a rising sophomore, who stole the show that day. He scored three 1-yard touchdown runs. He had had interception, too. While I was there to checkout Kalis and Wright, I figured it would be rude not to talk to Peppers as well.

And it's a good thing I did.

Now, Peppers is a five-star prospect, and has since transferred to Paramus Catholic (N.J.). He is coveted by every school in the country. But at the time, he said he only had offers from Rutgers, South Carolina and Miami (FL). Although, he knew exactly what he was looking for in a program.

"I want to go somewhere where they have a great foundation of players that went to the NFL, as well as people that succeeded in other businesses; such as Wall Street," said Peppers, in our Oct. 2011 interview. "But at the same time, on the athletic side of the ball, I want to go somewhere and play right away. You know what I'm saying? Redshirting is good, But I want to play right away. So, I go to look at who's coming in and who do they have already."

Peppers, would finish his sophomore season running for 1,004 yards and 22 touchdowns.

I got to see Peppers play a second time in Fall 2012, as Paramus utilized him as a running back, wide receiver, cornerback and safety. While he is currently the No. 4 CB in the latest Scout.com player rankings, he most certainly could play those four positions at the next level .

"It depends, if a school wants me to come for athlete that I am really likening, then I'll go for athlete and let them decide," said Peppers, in our Oct. 2011 interview. "But I feel as though I am a tough cornerback, cause I'll come up and hit. I can cover and I'm fast. At the same time on the offensive side of the ball, I can run really well and move my hips in tight little spaces and I follow my blocks really well. So, will just see how it goes down the road."

At 6-foot, 190-pounds, Peppers is as advertized. He has track speed. He can hit like a truck. He can make people miss in the open field. He is a game changer.

Peppers, received his Michigan offer in April, 2012. That's when I found out he had an affection for the Maize and Blue.

"I always liked Michigan," said Peppers, in our April, 2012 interview."I always liked the school part of Michigan, the tradition—everything about the school. So when they offered, I was like ‘Wow.' Growing up as a Michigan fan, that's crazy. Now that I am given the opportunity to end up going there and perform, I'm just feeling good right now."

Peppers said the Wolverines' were recruiting him as a cornerback.

"I would love to play corner anywhere, but if it's at Michigan—that's, like, big," said Peppers, in our April, 2012 interview." That's real big right there. Corner is all about attitude. You got to have swag. It's you against the receiver. If I am over the slot or wherever they may use me at—I feel like I am so competitive that I will not allow myself to be beat. If I do, forgot about the play. You need amnesia.

"If that day ever does come and I step on the field as a Wolverine, I would be ecstatic."

Now, Peppers is set to make his announcement on ESPNU on May 26. With many experts putting Michigan at the top of his list. He said he plans on visiting a secret school this weekend. His other schools of interest are Ohio State, Penn State and LSU. But all the signs point back to the Wolverines.

If Peppers ends up wearing the winged helmet someday—it wouldn't shock me or anyone who follows college football recruiting. Maybe I was just lucky enough to talk to him that day. But life is crazy like that, because sometimes you come across a rare talent that turns into something special. And Peppers most certainly has put fourth his case that he is indeed that.

Follow me on Twitter @joshnewkirk7

Please check out my first video interview with Jabrill Peppers from Oct. 8, 2011. Highlights are included.

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