There was one Michigan football recruit that stood head and shoulders above the rest this offseason, so it should come as no surprise that I am going with Jabrill Peppers here. Everywhere I turn there is some ex-NFL coach or player remarking at how advanced Peppers is in terms of his talent and knowledge of the game for his age. This could in fact be the player that Michigan needs to kickstart its program back into recruiting and on-field success.
The combination of speed, strength, and athleticism makes Peppers dangerous almost no matter where you put him on the field. An ideal place for him to be put initially would be punt and kickoff returns. Yes, there is a higher risk of injury but Michigan needs the athleticism that can get the crowd on its feet and allow the offense that struggled to sustain drives last year to have a shorter field.
In terms of defense, I support the idea of playing Jabrill at safety, which could shore up tackling downfield and allow the defense to be more aggressive in terms of pressuring the quarterback with his incredible range. However it appears that the coaching staff is looking to begin his career as a nickel corner. This is not a bad idea as it will allow him to catch up with the speed and strength of the game at the college level, but I hope they plan on putting him at an outside corner spot or safety at some point once he gains experience. He has the potential to shut down the opposition’s number one receiver.
The intensity and level of competition Peppers will bring to practice can only improve the team. Receivers will be tested by him and it will make them better players, most likely in route running and making catches. The defense will note the level of intensity he plays with and even teach him a few things about the game at the college level.
To check out the receivers Peppers will be testing in practice, check out this piece.
With the heightened level of play, Michigan can hope to add a few more wins on the field which will most likely translate to success on the recruiting front. Many Wolverines fans know that the disappointing 2013 season led to a few recommitments from top prospects, even Peppers considered decommitting to explore other options.
George Campbell was the first to go and he was followed by Damien Harris. The Florida Gators experienced similar problems when a shocking 4-8 season led to their top wide receiver commit, Ermon Lane, flipping commitments to the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles.
You can have the best recruiting coaches in the country (Michigan does have some excellent recruiters), but if you are playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and getting blown out it will be tough to get a letter of intent from top recruits who are also considering teams playing for national championships.
Jabrill Peppers has a passion for the game that will benefit the fans, the team, and the recruiting process if all goes according to plan for the Maize and Blue. Let us just hope that all the talent and hype comes to fruition.