Jabrill Peppers of Paramus, New Jersey isn't just another Michigan football recruit. Pointing out that he's coach Brady Hoke's first ESPN 5-star recruit or that he's the nation's No. 2-rated prospect in the 2014 class doesn't do him justice, either.
Peppers is a transcendent talent, the kind of player who can add a shot of adrenaline into the program the minute he walks into Schembechler Hall. Michigan fans follow his Twitter account like teenage girls follow Justin Bieber's. When he committed to Michigan on national television, he did so via a freestyle rap. He has the charisma and the toothy smile to rival Cam Newton.
Peppers, who is anything but bashful, has chosen to compare himself to another college football legend.
"When people say 'Michigan,' I want them to say Jabrill Peppers, then Charles Woodson," Peppers said. "I'm trying to be better than the best."
Proclaiming that you're going to be better than Woodson, who won the Heisman Trophy and is widely thought to be one of the best defensive players in college football history, is certainly a bold move.
But how could you not love his zeal and overwhelming confidence?
Peppers has shown dynamic ability at the high school level. He's returned kickoffs and punts for touchdowns, made huge plays as a wide receiver, successfully ran the "wildcat" and was nothing short of dominant as a defensive back, which is the position he'll likely play for the Wolverines.
Scouts for ESPN.com summed up his skill set by saying, "Whether deployed as an offensive or defensive skill position or as a returner, Peppers is a playmaker with explosive speed, smooth movements and excellent athleticism."
Hoke will have the time of his life drawing up new ways to utilize Peppers' abilities, and the Michigan program is well aware of the type of impact he can have in Ann Arbor. On Nov. 26, Peppers tweeted that he may take additional official recruiting trips after his high school season finished, citing rumors that Hoke's future in Ann Arbor may be in doubt.
Just one day later, athletic director Dave Brandon released a blog post on mgoblue.com that opened with a clear-cut statement. "Brady Hoke is our coach and will be leading our football program well into the future," Brandon said. In his post, Brandon specifically mentioned Hoke's recruiting in the state of New Jersey, where Peppers and teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty are the only committed 2014 prospects.
It doesn't take a psychiatrist to read between the lines on the timing of Brandon's statement.
Peppers, who visited the Michigan campus this past weekend and attended the Michigan-Arizona basketball game, reaffirmed his commitment to Michigan and expressed his thoughts on the visit in this upbeat tweet.
He then told WTKA-AM (1050)’s Sam Webb that he will remain committed to Michigan and will most likely not take any more official visits. "I don’t think I’m going to take any more [visits]," Peppers told Webb. "I think I’m done with that."
As the most important recruit of Hoke's tenure at Michigan, these are comforting words to hear from Peppers. For now Hoke can exhale a bit, although nothing will be official until National Signing Day on Feb. 5.
"I want to beat the 'Bucks in their own stadium, and bring a national championship to Michigan," Peppers said with a smile on his face. Come 2014, we'll see what the kid can do when he puts on the winged helmet.