I've got this dresser I'm painting to go with our bedroom furniture. A few weekends ago I got one coat on it. Then it rained and ruined half the second coat. So I took it out there again but it started to rain on and off and I had to hide it under the garage overhang. Every day I check to see if there will be six good hours of sunlight somewhere to stick the last coat on it, and every time there's a dollop of drizzle here, a sprinkle there, and at least one good pour per day.
It is as hopeless and infuriating as being a Michigan fan. I know we can't complain too hard because there are places like West Lafayette where it just rains all the time, or Champaign where the weatherman predicts sun so you'll be outside when the softball-sized hail comes.
Your April shower was Urban Meyer coming to piss on your attempt to add a grad-year transfer to the OL, and now May flowers with a boatload of puritan crap.
I'm still livid. For a second there it looked like at least one of Michigan's major sports was going to be sustainably great, so of course that's when the most insane decision yet by an organization best known for blithering stupid decisions knocks basketball from a likely 1-seed to something way less than that. McGary's mad too, but the NBA's not a terrible fallback plan. Michigan got screwed the most.
The last guy I could find to get the one-year ban was a role player at UNLV who lost his 5th year to it in 2010. We've been scouring Google to turn up polls and quotes to give you some idea of how ubiquitous pot-smoking is among college athletes. The NCAA's own study came back at 1 in 5:
I'm suddenly liking lacrosse more
So how is it, even if the draconian rule only applies to the playoffs, that the merciless league can only manage to tag one guy every four years? There's a synthetic version that regular pot-smoking athletes will use during the season to beat the tests. So when they do catch a guy with good ol'fashioned THC in his system, it's usually only because he's a total amateur. No pun intended.
Whence the leapers?
I know Jones is 10, but I keep getting Dukes (83) and York (81) confused.
The 2012 receiver class had a pair of high 4-star types with similar I-saved-my-family-from-a-terrible-place-in-Africa stories. The 2014 class had the guy who rewrote the in-state record books and what already looks like a gem in Freddy Canteen. Lost in the narrative have been the three large-and-leapy 2013 guys. What do we expect from C'sonte, Jaron and Da'Mario? That's a good question.
This year I expect depth. In addition to Gallon we also graduated Dileo and Jackson and Reynolds. If Nussmeier indeed goes 3-wide a lot more as we hope, then at least one of them ought to figure on the two-deep in 2014.
Jones is more "slot-like", i.e. thin, though he's not at all short. I think his upside is Roy Roundtree, and so long as they leave him in the slot that'll be just fine. Dukes and York represent a specific type of receiver who can simply muscle past the type of legal-unless-they-call-it press coverage en vogue these days, and simply out-leap the 5'8 buggers who won't have any trouble staying with them. They're development projects: it takes years to perfect off-the-snap and route techniques to make this work. Unfortunately, Michigan only bothered to get a redshirt on Dukes last year, which, given Mathlete's finding that receiver experience is a big deal, is infuriating. Mo Ways is in this vein too, FWIW.
Etc. Hoops previews of Illinois, Maryland, and…Iowa? Hmm. Prediction for the remainder: Michigan (we should be below Iowa), Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin. Photos from the Go Blue Bowl. The 2013-'14 cagers' contributions to the season's gifs. Lacrosse potentially could go green…I mean more green.
[After the jump: why 2014 offense isn't 2011 defense, I enter the ranks of MGoBloggers who rant about Brandon]
WELL FINE THEN. Apparently Michigan earned the animosity of Jimi Hendrix.
This was the Rose Bowl immediately following the legendary '69 OSU game that put Bo on the map, FWIW. Hendrix seems uncertain of the team that beat Michigan, he just wants Michigan to lose. Join the club. The very happy club.
I admit it. I find Wisconsin basketball tolerable these days. I still kinda hate Bo Ryan for being an alien from another planet sent here to prep us for invasion, but once they reached the Final Four I wanted Wisconsin to win the national title last year. And now Frank Kaminsky explains why he passed on the NBA draft:
"I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring,” he wrote.
“At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?”
Frank Kaminsky Gets It™. Frank Kaminsky for athletic director. Where? Anywhere. Texas. Definitely Texas.
Oh, Texas twit, we are going to have an unrequited hate. Via Get The Picture, Texas Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason on the A&M series:
UT AD Steve Patterson told us ``unless there is a compelling reason,'' the football series between Texas and Texas A&M is dead.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 25, 2014
I wonder what would qualify as a compelling reason other than 111(!) games dating back to 1902.
But go ahead and play a game in Shanghai. That'll get your brand synergized.
Dude you're never going to get a girl like that. Move on to the next one. This is stalker behavior:
After extending the Season Ticket Holder renewal deadline, and a total of (15) emails delivered starting on March 14 as well as a voicemail left by Jim Brandstatter, the Michigan Athletic Department wanted to provide you one final opportunity to renew your 2014 Michigan Football season tickets to ensure you are once again a part of one of the most exclusive groups in all of sports.
One of the most exclusive groups in all of sports that begs you 15 times plus leaves a voicemail by Jim Brandstatter in the desperate hope you will renew your tickets. Oh and lets you have ONE LAST CHANCE to renew. All right. One more chance.
Seriously, this is your last chance.
Despite it being 2016, it's not too late to renew your 2014 season tickets!
At least I'm not alone? When Phil Di Guiseppe and Alex Guptill signed NHL contracts, I wrote rather bitter posts about their exits that garnered a number of sarcastic "tell us how you really feel" responses. Tell us how you really feel, Red Berenson:
"We were going good in the first half and then some issues started cropping up and we thought we had dealt with them, but there was an underlying current of animosity, and a division between certain factions. You'd like to think the leadership is strong enough - and we had good captains - that you can just bring guys together, but you have to have total buy-in and no matter how much guys like Mac Bennett, Derek DeBlois and Andrew Copp tried, they just couldn't get that."
I'm expecting hockey to have a refreshing season next year.
Hello, defenseman of the future. Hockey adds a commitment from Joe Cecconi, a kid currently in the USHL after a mid-season callup last year from a U16 junior outfit. Cecconi had nearly a PPG with his junior team before moving to the big (USA junior) leagues. Already 6'2" and nearly 200 pounds, the OHL fired an eighth-round pick at him despite considerable uncertainty about whether he would report. He doesn't appear to be on NHL draft radar.
As a mid-year '97, Cecconi is likely to come in next year unless Michigan has one of those "if X happens, this year, if Y happens, next year" deals. This is about all I could Google up on him.
Hockey rule changes. It sounds like college hockey is serious about going to three-quarter shields next year, which has been framed as a safety issue in the past and now apparently has USHL data to back it up. I continue to think it's at least partially driven by a desire to look more like the NHL and therefore help the never-ending blood war with the CHL, but if they've got data they've got data.
Other potential changes:
- Death to ties. The NCAA wants to explore way to get more W/L decisions, seemingly without resorting to shootouts. There's no solid proposition on the table; 4-on-4 and longer OTs are possibilities, as are—ugh—shootouts.
- More reviews. There's a proposal to expand the ways reviews can be used to check if goals are legit and if penalties warrant five-and-a-game. Hockey reviews are generally less odious than basketball ones since they're infrequent and about things that have a huge impact on the game, but it seems like they've got all the critical stuff right now and expanding it is reaching the point of diminishing returns.
- All neutral zone faceoffs at center ice. Faceoffs at the offside dots are kind of stupid for the attacking team if they win them. This is more a product of the fact that hockey offsides is clumsily implemented.
- Penalties for delay when you can't change. In favor.
- Fewer hand-pass whistles. Apparently there were too many inadvertent deflections called hand-passes last year.
- No leaving your feet to block a shot. Linked article says that's unlikely to pass, FWIW, but that's an effort to create more offense "in a time where goals are already at a premium." I'm pro-offense but that seems like it takes a hustle play out of the game for debatable returns.
There are a couple other extremely minor proposals.
As always when hockey rule changes come up, I rant against how restrictive offsides is and proclaim it's time to admit goalies have won and expand the nets. There are a hundred ways to make offsides better; my current proposal is to triple the width of the line (the line is both part of the neutral zone and the offensive zone) and create a passive offsides rule like there is in soccer. A guy can be offsides without a whistle as long as 1) he is not impacting the play and 2) he immediately moves to exit and re-enter the zone.
As far as goal size goes, with modern butterfly goalies the only way to change the paradigm is to make sitting back and waiting for a shot to come in a worse play than it is right now. Teams like MSU play a six-goalie style in the defensive zone these days, because it makes sense. Dropping save percentages three or four points would swing things back towards aggression. Expand the nets by the width of the goalposts to get 2-3 more goals per game. It sounds dramatic, but really it's the least dramatic option to get scoring up. Everything else proposed is either a weak measure that won't do anything or a radical overhaul. Expanding the nets is just hockey with slightly different equations.
Etc.: Talking with DJ Wilson. Women's tennis has lost in the BTT final for the fifth straight year. Ouch. Instead of tweeting out your outrage about people saying "furst amundmunt," just tweet this XKCD. Jordan Morgan's suddenly the belle of the ball.
As you may have heard, the Big Ten opened its new office in New York City recently, and the media got its first look on Wednesday.
What you may not have heard was that shortly before the media took their tour, the Big Ten coaches and a handful of administrators got a look inside. We have a transcript of their meeting.
[AFTER THE JUMP: the tour]
Yes, yes, it's actually like round 15 or something, but round two with Beilein at Michigan.
Your random ACC opponent for this year's challenge: Syracuse and their 2-3 zone and long people everywhere. Michigan gets 'em at home. 'Cuse was undefeated for a big chunk of this year until their good fortune ran out and they started dropping close games against teams both good and bad; they were busted out of the tournament in the second round by Dayton, finishing 28-6.
While Michigan has been more battered by graduation and attrition, Syracuse also took some major hits. Leading scorer CJ Fair graduates; phenom point guard Tyler Ennis and SF Jerami Grant both entered the NBA draft.
Those guys represent a lot of Syracuse's offense; guys left over include three-point specialist Trevor Cooney and post Rakeem Christmas, plus DaJuan Coleman if Coleman can ever get healthy. Syracuse fans seem to think they're in for a "serious rebuilding year," FWIW.
The Orange do bring in a couple of touted recruits. Composite five star PF Chris McCullough is already 19 and should be ready to bang anyone Michigan can muster on the interior, and PG Kaleb Joseph will try to fill the gap left by Ennis. Even so, this is a much more manageable task than travelling to Cameron last year.
NC DE Darian Roseboro took an extensive visit to Michigan last weekend and reported back favorably; Sam Webb has an article on the result, in which Roseboro's dad raves and says he's seen what there is to see:
“I’ve seen all I’m going to see,.” Mr. Roseboro said flatly. “I’m not going anymore visits. Maybe he and his mother and grandpa will go one or two more places… maybe Tennessee, maybe (North Carolina) State, (North) Carolina or Duke. It won’t be any place further than what we’ve been.”
They want to come to a decision in the next couple months between Michigan and the schools listed above. NC State is popularly held to be the biggest threat… can we still be confident recruiting against NC State? I feel we can. .
Camps and such continue
Rivals's camp tour arrived in Detroit recently, and while there aren't a whole lot of local 2015 kids that Michigan seems to be pursuing there is one they're definitely after. He is Cass Tech RB Mikey Weber:
"Nussmeier, the day he came in, he contacted me and he brought me to their facility and he showed me a lot of things and he really opened my eyes back to Michigan," Weber said. "Nussmeier brings that Alabama style of running and that's what I'm looking for."
Weber was named the #1 player on offense in attendance:
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands.
MSU seems the main competition unless Notre Dame puts on a press, but we are now in a situation where we can hope a highly touted running back commits to MSU before Michigan's target decides. In this case that's OH RB Larry Scott, who is reportedly about to drop to MSU.
/waves tiny 'punt' flag
Notre Dame, for its part, just got back in after a "misunderstanding" had Weber thinking an offer was coming when it was not. The two parties still seem to be at arm's length at the moment.
Weber's planning a hats-on-the-table decision at the Army game, FWIW.
Malzone just has to fire the photon torpedoes down the tubes to get an offer
MI QB Alex Malzone was the QB MVP, FWIW, and may be inching closer to a Michigan offer:
The most noticeable thing about him was his rifle arm. The ball really pops off his hand and gets to his target in a hurry. Malzone's good footwork helped him throw a very accurate ball. He was able to hit most of his receivers in stride throughout the day.
His throwing session($) for various college coaches went well:
“My conversation with Coach Nuss went very well,” Malzone said. “He’s been all around the country seeing guys throw. I think he has one more, maybe two more on his list. He told everyone from the beginning he was going to see everyone throw. And then see what happens from there. And that’s pretty much what he told me. He said he was very impressed."
If I had to bet, Malzone's recent performances and flagging interest from the crew of elite California dudes will lead to Michigan issuing that offer. Wake Forest has issued his first BCS offer.
Elsewhere, PA OL commit Jon Runyan Jr showed up for a camp in the NY/NJ area, providing an opportunity for someone to provide scouting on him:
Runyan, a Michigan commit, was technically sound. His initial punch had purpose and he moved his feet well. He stayed low in his pass protection stance, and he did not reach. His balance was good, but he had a little difficulty when a speedy defensive lineman tried to go straight up the field on him. He was solid, and will continue to improve as his strength and size increase.
Listed at 6'3.5" and 265 pounds, Runyan is slated for the interior unless he hits a growth spurt.
Welp, part one
If you need a definition of how the recruiting landscape has shifted over the course of the last football season, here it is($):
Coming off a spring game visit to Michigan State on Saturday, Detroit King linebacker Tyriq Thompson has the Spartans out front as the team to beat in his recruitment. … Thompson's father played for Michigan and he holds an offer from the Wolverines.
Previously MSU was only in play for certain recruits with family backgrounds that favored MSU or had academic red flags that Michigan, for better or worse, is shying away from. Now they're leading for a Michigan legacy with a Michigan offer. This is what happens when you have the most unwatchable football season in the country while your instate rival wins the conference and Rose Bowl.
Quick, play some more LFO, Special K!
Welp, part two
CA DE Keisean Lucier-South called Michigan a childhood favorite and was super-enthused about the offer that did come from Ann Arbor, but at the moment he's got another school out front($):
"UCLA is probably I would say the team to beat right now. I have been talking to them the most right now and I've seen them and been to their school the most so they're the team to beat."
He does have an official planned to Michigan this fall (also ND) and is going to take his time.
OLSM LB Daelin Hayes was set to commit to Michigan at that Rivals camp before putting off his decision. His performance at the camp justified the early offer:
Hayes is looking like he will be among the nation's best in that class after what we saw on Sunday. It was always known that Hayes was talented, and that at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds he had ideal size. However, he missed his sophomore year after getting injured in the first game of the season and there was some questions as to justhow good he was. We got that question answered pretty sufficiently on Sunday when Hayes proved to be on another tier athletically.
As far as his recruitment goes, his current offers are from M, MSU, Wisconsin, and Tennessee and isn't maintaining any leaders. He plans to camp($) at M, MSU, and Wisconsin so it doesn't seem like he's looking to go too far afield.
MI OL Thiyo Lukasa seems to be an instate battle, one that probably favors Michigan this instant but see Welp Part One above.
Basketball is going better, stop me if you've heard that before
Chatman and Wilson zoom up available rankings
It's another final rankings update, so Michigan recruits must be shooting towards the ceiling. This time it's Scout, which finally makes Kam Chatman a five star (at #23) after Chatman was the #1 four star on Rivals and 247. Also rocketing up the rankings is DJ Wilson, who finishes #67 after being an anonymous three star upon his commitment. "Gold in them thar hills" tag: deployed.
Unfortunately, it seems like Michigan and Cole Huff aren't going to end up making sweet three point babies… this sentence got really weird really fast. I was powerless to stop it, you have to believe me.
Anyway. According to his AAU coach, Huff is down to two:
Cole Huff is down to Creighton and Iowa where he is visiting tomorrow he will be making a decision following the visit #Eleate
— clint parks (@Brotherhood05) May 1, 2014
Given the way they'd been talking about Michigan before I have to assume that Michigan did not end up pursuing Huff. That isn't the craziest thing in the world if Chatman and Wilson are both stretch fours… I just thought a guy who had that size and shot like that would be a lock to perform under Beilein. C'est la vie.
With Huff off the board, the next major event in basketball recruiting is likely to be the June window in which Michigan conducts its elite camp and fires out offers to 2016 prospects. Michigan is going to have a couple of big, big time guys on campus for that camp. One of them is going to be NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr. If that seems like an odd place for a guy super interested in Michigan to be, Chris Balas has a long piece($) on the reason Michigan is high on his list. Turns out Jeff Meyer coached his father back in the day when he was at Liberty, and things went better than they do with Rutgers coaches:
"One word - integrity," Thornton Sr. told us last year. "I remember him as a man as much as a coach. He had high integrity. Of course he'd get after you in practice, but that's what you do as a coach. There were times he'd call you just to check on you and see how you were doing."
Tom Crean just fainted, then cut down some nets.
Thornton plans to be at Michigan's elite camp for nearly a week, and an offer will certainly follow. Thornton is the #19 player in the country on the 247 composite, and their Crystal Ball has swung from 100% Arizona to 50-50 over the past few weeks.
As a bonus, Thornton and his dad have seemingly convinced NJ SF Tyus Battle to take in the elite camp as well. Syracuse is supposed to lead for Battle; get 'em on campus and all that.
And Michigan has plenty of options after those two… it seems that the 2016 cycle is the one where Michigan is really starting to see the payoff from their recent success. AL SG Josh Langford (not that Josh Langfeld), claims "high interest($)" in Michigan…
“Oh I definitely want to get up to Michigan,” Langford’s father said. “And Michigan State has also shown a lot of interest too so, I definitely want to get up to Michigan to check them out.”
…MI PG Cassius Winston is waiting on his offer, KY PG Quentin Goodin is tentatively planning to go head-to-head with Thornton at the elite camp, and ON PG Jamal Murray has M and MSU near the top of his list with only one visit under his belt—that to Michigan. Chances are Michigan locks down a top-50 PG in 2016.
Etc.: 2016 PA RB Miles Sanders is a Michigan offeree who's just getting into the recruiting process($). Penn State just offered. 2015 UT LB Osa Masina releases a top eight with Michigan in it. More importantly: is his twitter handle a shoutout to Greg Ostertag?
|Paramus, NJ – 6'1", 210|
5*, #3 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #3 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #2 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #4 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
|Other Suitors||Alabama, OSU, ND, Florida, LSU, everyone else|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. One Frame At A Time on the run. Picture Pages on the run. Comparing Peppers to hyped dudes past.|
|Notes||Paramus Catholic (Juwann Bushell-Beatty)|
And you're probably familiar with this one:
Do I actually need to write this one? Surely you are full to the brim with Jabrill Peppers information. Eighteen years ago he sliced open his father's head with a sword and leapt forth, fully formed, ready to wreak havoc upon Persians and Carthaginians alike. After shoving the Indian subcontinent into an aesthetically pleasing location he wandered the world, dispensing sage advice to operators of wheeled vehicles of all descriptions everywhere. He decided to go to Michigan to win the Heisman as a defensive back and did so twice in the future forever and ever amen.
The end. Hooray.
If you are not sated yet, here's all this other stuff. Let's start with the various "room for improvement" sections found in scouting reports. Clint Brewster:
Improvements: It is very hard to find a flaw or a glaring area for improvement in Peppers game.
What Needs Work
I’m sure when Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, there must have been one bad step during it, so it leaves room for Peppers, the No. 4 prospect in the nation, with things to improve upon.
Does anyone have an actual criticism? Second chance time, Mr. Dohn.
The only thing with Peppers is sometimes he is so aggressive and wants to make a play so badly, he will bust an assignment in the passing game or guess which hole to fill in the running game rather than just wait for the play to develop and do his one-eleventh.
All right, then. These are the… uh… multiple and serious negatives of Jabrill Peppers. Offsetting these are some meager positives that may one day see him squeeze onto a Division I football field.
- Brewster, 247: "Peppers is a rare athlete with potential to be great at the next level. He is one of the most talented players I have ever seen at the high school level. At 6-foot-1, and 205-pounds, Peppers has college ready size to go with un-matched speed and explosiveness."
- Dohn, Scout: "Peppers has it all. The speed, acceleration, change of direction, ability to turn his hips and cover down or across the field, leadership, competitiveness, physicality, strength and a high football IQ."
- Adam Friedman, Rivals: "Peppers' incredible natural athleticism combined with his big frame and tireless work ethic has helped him become a true lockdown cornerback. "
- Scott Kennedy, Scout: "…could play four to five different positions and excel at them. He is a strong running back. He is as fluid as a good corner. He hits like a linebacker. He could play safety. You could honestly take him and put him in an outside linebacker position and he would flourish. He is going to return kicks. He is going to return punts. He catches anything that is near him. He is spectacular."
- Tom Luginbill, ESPN: "…in the past nine classes we are not quite sure we have seen a skilled athlete on defense like Peppers. He is as naturally gifted and explosive of an athlete as we can recall and he could play five positions."
- ESPN evaluation: "Has sudden movements but can also accelerate at a premium level with great top-end speed. … Will arrive with or shortly after the ball before the receiver can react. Naturally gets his head around to locate the ball and competes for it like a WR when it's in the air. Shows really good tracking and ball skills and a natural awareness around the football in all three phases of the game. … Shines in tight coverage … Takes sharp angles, closes strong with great burst and will wrap and pop as a tackler. … game changer."
- Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "While he's not his listed 6-1 (more like a shade under 6-0), Peppers' weight won't be in question. He is already built like an NFL defensive back, and hits with the force you'd expect. Throughout the week in practice, he could barely prevent himself from laying a big hit in the run game or against a wide receiver while playing coverage … also every bit the explosive athlete we expected him to be. "
- USC coach: "Holy s---, that's him? I've only seen two players in high school with a body like that and both of them are named Peterson [Adrian and Patrick]."
"Is that all?" you scowl whilst raising a glass of cognac to your lips. "I had heard he was rather something." You're such an elitist.
Anyway, everyone who has seen Peppers has come away fanning themselves and trying to jam more stars into the guy's profile. There is no dissention here, except as to where he will play.
Two of the above evaluations mention he could play four or five positions (RB, WR, CB, S, and maybe OLB is how that breaks down), and several articles bat that possibility about. 247's JC Shurburtt asserts that he's a surer thing on offense because there's no denying his ability there ("electric and dynamic") and he may outgrow the corner spot if he's not enough of a freak athlete to outgrow the corner spot and still play corner. On the other hand, Rivals suggests he's more of a sure thing on D, and everyone ranks him there.
This was not at cornerback
So then where does he end up? We've already had a rather long comedy breakdown of something Peppers did on offense on this site. Meanwhile, poke an analyst in the right mood, as Sam Webb did, and you'll find yourself asking a follow-up question like so:
You mentioned he could play five positions at the next level. At what position do you think he would have the greatest impact?
And the floodgates veritably open with comparisons to other players. Most are corners, but some don't make any sense so the ones that do make sense are split between CB, S, and offense: Take your pick from:
- Joe Haden, CB, Florida/Cleveland Browns. This was Rivals' rather bizarre shot at a comparison, one that starts out with "physically, Haden and Peppers aren't very similar." They do assert that Haden and Peppers are both "strong, physical cornerbacks" who will come up against the run. Haden was a HS QB, just about exclusively.
- Greg Reid, CB, FSU/St Louis Rams. Reid is apparently the nouveau Antione Winfield since he is 5'8" but Peppers's UA coach brought him up as a comparison point because he levels people: "He reminded me of Greg Reid. I’ve never seen a corner come down that fast underneath -- that aggressive. He is a corner that I think can hit like a linebacker. He wants to hit. He doesn’t want to stray from a hit. To be that muscular he has great fundamentals. I think he’s probably the most physical corner we have here.” This gentlemen then said he was going to be a safety/rover/hybrid guy after comparing him to a 5'8" corner.
- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU/Arizona. The most sensible CB comparison comes from Peppers himself, who notes their almost identical size. 247's Clint Brewster also cites Peterson in his evaluations.
- Reggie Bush, RB, USC/Lions. Since no one ventured a specific player who made sense when talking about Peppers's vast offensive potential, this one's mine. When searching for an offensive comparison, Scout's Scott Kennedy started talking about De'Anthony Thomas, a 165-pound dude when he entered college. Bush is now listed at 203 on his NFL bio and has the same height as Peppers; Peppers can make a legit claim to his explosiveness. Peppers projects as a RB/WR space hybrid type guy more than a Green-style pounder.
- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee/Chiefs. Kennedy did bring up an interesting name whilst fighting himself about where to play Peppers: Berry, a box safety/hybrid space player/all-around-pain: "I think his impact on the game [would be maximized by] letting him roam around a little bit and freelance and let him play – an Eric Berry style of safety where they would walk him up. I mean, Eric Berry had 15 tackles for loss. He is that kind of a player. Eric Berry, I thought, was maybe the best player in college football a couple of years ago.”
Meanwhile, the guy you may have heard of mentioned above in You May Remember Me From Such Players as spans all of these things: a corner, return guy, and occasional wide receiver at Michigan, Charles Woodson spent time at corner, safety, and nickel in the NFL, excelling at all three. As the NFL game became more spread out, Woodson flipped inside to provide the triple threat skills the ideal HSP manages: blitz, cover, and support the run. A former Stanford player lays out Peppers' ability in that department:
Peppers shows on video to be a very tough player and a violent tackler. If he does, as most expect, end up on the defensive side of the ball, his reaction skills could place him in the role of a top-end cornerback. However, his willingness and ability to strike and his blitzing competence could make Peppers an excellent safety, given that he is already around six feet tall and 200 pounds, or a corner who could master the nickelback role when necessary. He closes well on run plays and does so with a purpose, making him an all-around football player well worthy of his gaudy offer list.
Erase the first word in that evaluation and it may as well read "Woodson."
Now… take a look at the Michigan roster and think back to what they were doing with the defense in spring: one high safety, cornerbacks in your grill, one definitively box safety plunging down to the line to disrupt things. Generally it is harder to make the big game-changing impact from a safety spot, but if you've got the skillset it is possible—Berry was the fifth pick in the draft—and Peppers seems to have it.
What about next year? Expect a bit of a slow start if Peppers does slot in at corner. Paramus used Peppers mostly as a safety, so the finer points of tight coverage are things he'll have to develop. His UA position coach:
“Maybe he needs to work on just the biggest fundamentals of a cornerback,” Cox said. “We all know he’s aggressive now so it’s now work on reading the routes a little quicker, reading the quarterback drops, understanding the pass drops a little better.
“He’s more run oriented. You can tell he wants to play run, run, run -- sit back a little more and work on your passing routes, work on the quarterback drops and your receiver breaks.”
"I definitely want to improve on my hip flexibility," Peppers said. "I know that I've been ranked and seen as the top cornerback in the country, but people don't realize that it's actually a pretty new position for me. I don't have a lot of experience there. Given that, I know I need to continue to learn about the position and learn how to understand it. Once I really understand and grasp it and am able to combine it with my athletic ability, the sky will be the limit for me at the position."
Perhaps this would be arrogant, except literally everyone else who has described Peppers's potential has echoed it. So it's just normal.
Don't expect him to take too long, though. Unlike Brandon Watson he's had to do a variety of things in a variety of ways. As a bonus, various coaches say he picks things up quickly. His high school coach:
“He's playing safety for us and our defense is really a complicated type defense. We don’t sit in one thing. We combo cover. He’s used as a robber, he blitzes, he makes calls on the field himself, the check coverages. We tried to broaden his football horizon and say you know what, you’re one of the top-rated kids in the country, you’re going to learn the game big time and we’re going to put a lot on you.”
If Michigan does chuck him in at safety he could win the starting job opposite Wilson quickly. Probably not opener quickly; Big Ten play is a possibility.
I was in Camp Boundary Corner before doing this evaluation and now I'm torn between that and Safety Of Doom who moves down to play nickel/SAM against spread teams, sort of like Stevie Brown except riding an avalanche of dinosaurs. I won't regard any move as a bad sign, but rather an an attempt to get him on the field.
"I treat Jabrill like he's one of our coaches," Partridge says. "I'll tell him things that I would never tell other players. I treat him like one of the coaches because he can handle it, he gets it."
Why Charles Woodson? You're damn right I'm breaking out the big one. If not for Peppers, then for who?
And it is a super-tight comparison anyway. Peppers and Woodson are both burly boundary corner types with the physicality to get in the box and put a guy on the ground. Peppers was the top cornerback in the country; Woodson was also but just wasn't rated like it. Dynamic skills extend to offense, where return jobs and opportunities to moonlight as a slot receiver beckon. Same size, same skillset, same everything.
Guru Reliability: High. All say the same thing, was scouted top to bottom for years, all star game appearance.
Variance: Low. Already physically ready. Some question about experience at the cornerback spot but CB is a location about athleticism above all. Has 87 backup options if CB doesn't work out.
Ceiling: Can't hold us.
General Excitement Level: Yowza.
Projection: Michigan's jam-packed corner situation makes things a little questionable in year one. Is he displacing one of Taylor/Countess/Lewis? Well… maybe. None of those guys bring the size Peppers does to the table and that boundary corner spot is just begging for a guy who has the size and athleticism he does. But that'll happen gradually, as has been the case for all Michigan cornerback standouts past: about half a year working his way into the lineup before a mid-season promotion to the starting job.
Taylor departs after this year so the boundary spot should be his for the next two or three years, probably two.
The other option is for Peppers to be a heavily box-oriented safety and hybrid space player. It is not a terrible idea what with Michigan in possession of Lewis and Stribling for the next three years plus Countess for the next two; guys like Peppers can have the same level of impact elite corners do and the potential upgrade at SS looks like a bigger one than the potential upgrade at CB.
And what about the other side of the ball? He'll be given every opportunity to take kickoff and punts from day one; Norfleet is going to have to hold him off. Working him into the offense is probably something for 2015 and beyond. Once that milestone is hit, though, you'd have to be nuts not to at least explore the possibility.