Experience always commands attention, but Michigan coach Brady Hoke will have a difficult time denying Jabrill Peppers in 2014.
As Team 135’s highest-profile recruit, the new guy in town brings a beyond-standard skill set that should be utilized on each side of the ball and special teams.
Needless to say, as spring practices progress, he’ll be the guy to follow—and he doesn't even arrive until fall. With 15 other commits, seven of which enrolled early, and a board full of returning contributors, not one player overshadows Peppers.
He’s yet to play a down in college, but the former Paramus Catholic (N.J.) do-all is expected to make an immediate impact. His 5-star ranking and .9992 composite score from 247Sports speak volumes.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and defensive mind Greg Mattison should have a field day with Peppers for at least three years, a time frame in which Hoke should grab at least one of those elusive Big Ten titles and forge ahead, deep into the playoffs.
Pondering Peppers' future as a defensive back and offensive threat is beyond fascinating—it's addictive.
And that's why his presence isn't required in spring practice in order to be viewed as the player to track.
Consider this a head start.
Basically, Peppers made spectators feel bad for his opponents. Miles ahead of most on the field, high school football appeared incredibly easy for the exemplary athlete.
Tell that to Average Joe who had to bust tail just to make the team. And really, teammates were far from just "average" high schoolers—Don Bosco and Paramus are Garden State powerhouses.
Guys like Peppers don’t come around every day, so it’s fair to say that even opposing coaches were awestruck as the 6'1," 205-pound Wolverines blue-chipper exploited their teams.
Want to get excited about Peppers' role in Ann Arbor? Take a look at his gaudy figures from his days as a crazy-good prepster.
|A Dose of Peppers Rubbed Salt into Wounds|
|3,059 yards/43 TD||842 yards/17 TD||134 tackles/ 7 INT||4,379 yards|
|Career totals via MaxPreps (three varsity teams, including Paramus Catholic)|
High school success doesn't always translate to college. Several players enter touting local and state records...and then they take a seat on Hoke's bench.
High school, most of the time, means nothing once a prospect hits the big time.
But Peppers is different.
Perspective: 4,379 yards equals 13,137 feet. Divide that by 5,280 feet, a mile, and you'll have 2.49 miles of ball-advancing plays.
There Must Be Others
Execution doesn't happen by accident. Plays get made by guys who learn the playbook. Doing so in spring bodes well for playing time in the fall.
That being said, Freddy Canteen has a leg up on his fellow newcomers. As an early enrollee, the wide receiver should benefit from early physical practices as well as film sessions. In all likelihood, he'll have a much firmer grasp on day-to-day operations than fall arrivals.
With fairness in mind, the 6'1," 175-pound former Elkton Eastern Christian (Md.) star deserves mention.
However, at best, he's one of the most intriguing early enrollees. That's what happens when you're packed in the same recruiting class as a potential program great.
On defense, Jake Ryan's story certainly stands out among the crowd.
Recovering from an ACL tear kept him from reaching full speed in 2013. Now a senior, he'll have a lot on his plate this fall. Operating from the "Mike" linebacker spot could skyrocket production.
In essence, he'll be in better position to affect just about every snap. Mattison needs a spark on defense, and the sooner it's shown, the better.
Despite a valiant return, Ryan doesn't come close to Peppers on the meter of intrigue.
It's not often that a recruit enters the fold with an open-book mentality. And due to technology and social media, Peppers has ample opportunities to express himself. A genuine interest in connecting with fans and the Michigan program is evident.
He wants to be Michigan's Jabrill.
Really, his story is more about a young man defying odds than playing football (The Star-Ledger's Matthew Stanmyre does a wonderful job of telling it in this article).
Experienced beyond his years, the teen endures circumstances in life that most don't encounter: Since age seven, he's waited for his father's release from prison.
At a young age, he witnessed the worst of humanity. Sadly, violence and drug deals were the norm. In 2010, his brother Don was killed in Newark.
Through it all, Peppers remains focused and committed to achieving the highest levels on the football field. His athletic expression is second to none, and his vocal expression is just as captivating.
As a developing rapper, he tells tales of his life and explains how he's just a young man trying to "make it" while suiting up for his favorite team.
Is that intriguing enough?
The kid called his own shot.
It's too bad that Michigan has to wait until fall to see him carry out the plan.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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