Jabrill Peppers' Decision Would Signify Power Shift in Big Ten

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2013

Photo courtesy of 247Sports
Photo courtesy of 247Sports

Jabrill Peppers holds the fate of the Big Ten in the palm of his hands.

247Sports has Peppers listed as the third-best prospect in the country in its composite rankings. He's a 5-star cornerback who can play immediately with his new school, whichever he chooses.

MaxPreps reported that Peppers will make his decision on Sunday evening, with the choices whittled down to LSU, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Rutgers. In all likelihood, Peppers will be playing in the Big Ten next season, and Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports predicts Michigan will be the winner.

No matter if Peppers chooses the Wolverines or another Big Ten Rival like the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions, he'll have a major impact on which school will be the class of the conference in the coming years.

For Ohio State, it would be a major coup and further the school's push for a national title and return from the bowl purgatory caused by Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor.

Should Peppers shock everyone and select Penn State, it would be a major investment in the school and coaching staff considering the stigma surrounding the Nittany Lions and their postseason ban.

At this point, though, it's hard to look past the Wolverines. Mike Farrell of Rivals.com is firm in his belief Peppers will be in Ann Arbor come 2014:

By selecting Michigan, Peppers would be building upon the forward momentum started by Brady Hoke when he took over as head coach in 2011.

When Urban Meyer became head coach at Ohio State, it was assumed the Buckeyes would become the conference's best hope at knocking off the SEC from its perch atop college football. That belief was strengthened after they went 12-0 last year.

It's easy to forget the resurgence Hoke is leading in Ann Arbor. You knew it was going to take some time to undo all of the things Rich Rodriguez did wrong during his three years as head coach.

Nabbing a stud prospect like Peppers would firmly re-establish Michigan as the team to beat in the Big Ten. It's not as if the Wolverines have been feeding off scraps on the recruiting trail over the past few years, but they've been second-best to the Buckeyes. That would change with the arrival of Peppers.

This would be a case of Hoke and Meyer going head to head, with Hoke as the victor. That would send a big message to future recruits.

Aside from any sort of off-field edge, there's no getting around what Peppers would bring on the field.

He's a tremendous athlete. It's not far off to say he could play in the NFL right now and manage to hold his own. He'll need to spend little time in the gym in order to get himself ready for FBS football.

Along with his physical gifts, Peppers is very astute on the field. He can read the ball well and time his jumps appropriately. This is not the kind of player who must rely solely on his physical superiority in order to be effective.

Plus, Peppers can play on either side of the ball. He'll likely fit in at either corner or safety, but Peppers could easily contribute in the passing game and on returns. Considering his versatility, you could probably have Peppers line up on field goals and he'd start hitting 50-yarders immediately.

Hoke would be getting a major playmaker in Peppers and a player who could have an impact at the school that lasts long past his time on the field.