5-star football recruit Jabrill Peppers is a rare athlete with the versatility and playmaking ability to shine at whatever college he chooses—even as a true freshman.
Though he ran for 1552 yards and 18 touchdowns and had an additional five receiving scores, Peppers projects as a top defensive back at the collegiate level, and has all the tools to thrive immediately.
The pride of Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey racked up 80 tackles and four interceptions this past season. He is the No. 3 prospect in the country in the 2014 class, according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings.
247 Sports' 33 experts all believe that Peppers will attend the University of Michigan, but he's not set to make an announcement until Sunday between 4:45 and 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU, per NJ.com's Todderick Hunt.
In the above report by Hunt, Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge discusses what makes Peppers so special beyond his phenomenal physical skills:
Jabrill is an extremely valuable in terms of on and off the field thing. He's a hard worker, he's an unselfish player, he's really smart and he's a good leader. So he has all the intangibles that make you a great player, not just his skills. He's extremely valuable to us in all aspects.
Peppers runs a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and is already 6'1" and 205 pounds entering his senior year for the Paladins. That is simply off the charts, and is an exceptional size and speed combination for even a current top-flight college player.
In fact, during a track meet on Saturday, the young star was putting that swiftness to the test, and proclaimed on Twitter that he broke the meet record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.56.
Let's not be confused, though. Some track athletes happen to be football players, and some football players are de facto track athletes.
Peppers is the latter—born to be a force on the gridiron.
As can be seen in his junior highlight tape, this special prospect may be too good not to use on both sides of the ball.
The success of the read-option may cause him to enter games as a Wildcat quarterback; what really stands out when the ball is in hands is Peppers' lateral quickness, seamless change of direction and agility.
But those enviable capabilities all apply to the defensive side, too. Whether Peppers lines up at cornerback or safety, he can shine by properly utilizing them.
Quick hips are key for defensive backs in coverage, and Peppers is certainly blessed with those. Also noteworthy is how he attacks when the ball is in the air. Not only can Peppers snag the ball at its highest point, but he is aggressive and strong when competing for it.
Should Jabrill Peppers play both ways in college?
The instincts Peppers shows are as impressive as any aspect of his game. Showcasing the ability to diagnose plays at such a young age is an extremely positive sign for the coaches hoping for the opportunity to continue Peppers' development.
A defensive back like Peppers who is so physical and willing to step up in run support is going to be embraced by whomever his impending teammates will be.
Combine that with a strong set of intangibles, a seemingly bright football IQ and rare physical gifts, and Peppers should have no trouble having a prolific maiden college campaign.
Note: Measurements and statistics are courtesy of 247Sports.com.