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Once 5-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers decided to join the Michigan football program on Sunday, the clock began ticking for some of the nation's top uncommitted defensive backs.
The Wolverines are unlikely to bring in more than two cornerbacks in their 2014 recruiting class. This means that the first prospect to commit will finish out Michigan's recruitment at the position. As of now, 5-star corner Adoree' Jackson and 4-stars Parrker Westphal and John "Juju" Smith are the top three cornerbacks considering Michigan.
Any one of the three, combined with Peppers, would make a formidable duo in the secondary. Peppers already has the potential to shut down an entire side of the field. Adding another highly touted corner will shrink opponents' passing lanes even more.
If Westphal, Jackson or Smith want to join Peppers, though, he may have to end his recruitment earlier than expected. Michigan's coaching staff has proved more times than not that it will take the first prospect willing to commit rather than wait around for a particular individual.
Given that the three players are not separated by much in terms of talent and potential, this seems to be another case where the quickest to pull the trigger will have a spot in the class.
Westphal appears to be closer than the other two as far as a verbal commitment goes. The nation's No. 229 overall prospect plans to trim his list this summer. Already assured it will make the cut, Michigan could hear good news from Westphal not too long after he eliminates some teams.
"My plan is just getting it out of the way, just getting rid of that distraction so I can focus on my team," Westphal told Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required).
Meanwhile, Jackson is favoring the USC Trojans, according to 247Sports. Pulling Jackson away from his home state will be a tall order for Hoke and his staff. Even if the Wolverines are able to make up some ground, Westphal appears more likely to end his recruitment before Jackson does.
The recruiting process has not overwhelmed Smith either, so one can expect him to take plenty of time before making a decision. Michigan is among Smith's favorite programs, though. Other schools in the hunt are Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Washington, USC, UCLA and Cal.
Which cornerback will wind up in Michigan's 2014 class with Jabrill Peppers?
Again, pulling a prospect away from the West Coast is extremely tough. For the time being, moving away from the warm weather in California is something Smith is open to.
"As far as location, I'm wide open. I don't mind leaving the west coast. I'm a guy who likes to explore, so that's no problem for me," Smith told Marc Tausend of GoldenBearReport.com (subscription required). "And my family is letting me go through the process. Wherever I go, they'll support me one hundred percent."
Finally, if by some slew of misfortune the Wolverines happen to miss out on all three of the aforementioned defensive backs, 3-star prospect Jalen Embry could receive an offer. The Detroit product has primarily Mid-American Conference offers right now. Michigan could wait and see how things play out before dishing out an offer to Embry.
All that being said, expect Westphal to join Peppers in the Michigan secondary sooner rather than later.
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