Sam Webb: You guys went on to win another state title. Just reflect on the season that Jabrill (Peppers) had for you guys this year.
Chris Partridge: “I mean Jabrill had the season we’d expect out of him. He led us to back-to-back state titles. He does a little bit of everything for us. He brings a nice swag to the practice and he is a good leader. He did his thing and he led us to where we wanted to be.”
Sam Webb: He has been so good from the beginning of his high school career… he has been so good since he started at Paramus Catholic. Did he improve anywhere or was he just that good all the way through?
Chris Partridge: “To me he is a different type of player, as he grew into the game and he became bigger, smarter and more physical. Right now, he knows everything. These coaches (at Under Armour) are saying how smart he is, picking up little keys from the receivers and their stances and jumping routes and stuff. He is showing off here and it is the All-American game. The kid is just an ultimate competitor. He is such a smart and bright young man that he wills himself into being extremely, extremely successful.”
Sam Webb: You’ve seen everything these guys are seeing. Their mouths are open.
Chris Partridge: “He is performing every single day here. Everybody has said something, ‘you coached him, oh my god.’ I said this is no surprise to me. This is exactly what I’m expecting. He’s playing and I’m talking some smack to him. I’m coaching the linebackers and he’s trying to run the ball, playing a little quarterback and stuff. It is fun and we’re having a good time. I’ve seen this every day in practice, him come and perform. He practices hard every single day for us. He practices hard and he is doing his thing.”
Sam Webb: What is the next step for Jabrill to be that same player in college as he is now in high school?
Chris Partridge: “He’s got to go get it. He’s got to work. When he gets home from this game, I think he needs to take a couple of weeks off and then he has got to go get it. He’s got to go into the weight room, he’s got to train. He’s got to want it. He’s got to hit the books and understand the game even more and more. You can always get better at this game and that’s why it is so beautiful. There are 11 guys on the field, a lot of things change, a lot of things moving. I think he’ll hit it and he’ll just keep improving himself.”
Sam Webb: What about Juwan Bushell-Beatty. What have you seen from Juwan and how did he get better?
Chris Partridge: “He improved. Juwan is a three year football player. The sky is the limit for him. He is just going to get better and better once he learns the game more. He had a fantastic season for us. He was physical, imposing, has great footwork. He did really well as well. He is a guy that is going to go up to Michigan and he is going to just get better and better. One day we are going to turn on the TV and he is going to be playing left tackle and doing it well for Michigan.”
Sam Webb: What is the ideal playing weight?
Chris Partridge: “Those college coaches know a lot more than I do, but I would guess that he should be around 305 – between 300 and 310. He is probably heavy right now. He is around 325 and I think he has to cut down a little bit, but those guys will handle it. They’ll get him ready. That’s their livelihood.”
Sam Webb: Let’s end with this… a lot of people are talking about legacy with Jabrill Peppers. After four state titles, some are saying he is the greatest player to ever play in Jersey. I know you were his coach and love the kid, but do you think that kind of talk is warranted. Do you think he is the best? One of the best? How would you rank him?
Chris Partridge: “You’re setting me up for that one, but you know what – yeah I do, I do. Granted I haven’t seen a lot of the other guys on the list, but for Jabrill to do what he did and do it in so many different ways and different positions, and do it on and off the field, just be the well-rounded person that he is… I think coming out of high school he is definitely up there, definitely warranted. I tell him all the time, you haven’t done anything yet. The sky is the limit for you. Don’t look back at that, don’t look back and get too overly happy about what you did. You’ve got greatness on the horizon. Let us stay humble, stay working and let them talk about you 15 years down the road and put you in the conversation.”
Sam Webb: Are you tired of people calling you and asking you, ‘is Jabrill really going to go to Michigan or is he going somewhere else?’ because that stuff is still out there. What do you have to say to that?
Chris Partridge: “Oh my god, what do I have to say – look at my phone! It is calling and texting with recruiters trying to talk to him and people asking me, friends, family, all over the country, people that know him and want to get an inside track. Jabrill is like I said to everyone, he is committed to Michigan and that’s where he is at.”