I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Oh, Right ... That
There hasn't been a recruiting roundup since Jabrill Peppers tweeted his intention to take official visits after the season, catching not only Michigan fans off-guard, but also his fellow commits and even his own coach, Paramus Catholic's Chris Partridge—notably, the man who sets up all of Peppers' visits. After the tweet set fire to this corner of the internet, Peppers released a statement through Partrige:
I am still 100% committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college. With the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction. For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options. No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS
Peppers reiterated that he's not decommiting and just wants to use any potential visits as a "security blanket," to Scout (via Sam Webb's latest column in the Detroit News).
Michigan has already begun efforts to assuage Peppers' fears, certainly with an eye on keeping him from taking any visits, which would put Brady Hoke in quite the bind as he balances the massive need to keep Peppers in the fold with the possibility of angering other commits—and displaying what could easily be interpreted as hypocricy by Michigan targets and their coaches—by not enforcing his no-visit policy. Dave Brandon's statement in support of Hoke specifically mentioned Michigan's national recruiting "from New Jersey to California, from Michigan to Florida." I don't believe New Jersey is in there by accident; in fact, the whole statement seems to be as much a response to the Peppers situation as it is to any fan discontent.
There are a few things working in Michigan's favor. Peppers and his Paramus Catholic squad play in the state championship game this weekend; the following weekend he's set to take his official visit to Michigan. Peppers didn't talk to Hoke when he made his statement last week—Hoke had a few other things to worry about—but he'll definitely find out where things stand when he's in Ann Arbor; if the coaches (and Brandon) can convince him that the program is on stable ground, it's entirely possible that this whole thing blows over without him ever setting foot on another school's campus.
Even if Peppers still wants to explore other schools after his Michigan official, the timing is tough; an NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period goes into effect after next week's visit, so he wouldn't be able to visit any school until mid-January, just a couple weeks before Signing Day.
For his part, Peppers certainly seemed committed to Michigan during The Game on Saturday, tweeting out his support multiple times during the game and indicating afterward that he'd be taking part in it next season, and not as a Buckeye. While the fact that Peppers even needs reassurance that Hoke will still be at Michigan next year isn't a good sign regarding his recruitment or the program, I don't think there's a lot to worry about here unless Peppers actually goes on other visits—for now, only his trip to Ann Arbor is set to go.
[After THE JUMP, Michigan drops the 'grey shirt' distinction for Brady Pallante, visit reactions from The Game, and a roundup of the latest on Michigan's commits who are still alive in the playoffs.]
J-Reall Recognize Real, That Is
Jabrill Peppers is doing pretty well for himself. The five-star recruit is one of the most sought-after prospects in the country. His highlight tape is 12 minutes of filth, in a good way. Before too long he'll likely choose whether he wants to attend Michigan or Stanford, two of the finest schools—not to mention football programs—in the country.
It's no surprise, then, that USA Today chose Peppers to pen a blog detailing his recruitment and personal life, and some kids have such an overabundance of talent that the rest of us feel bad:
Most people don't know that I'm a music artist. They only know that I play football, but I've been singing and rapping as long as I've been playing football; since the age of 4 or 5.
Being the type of guy that I am I really take rap as a challenge. I'm from the hood, but I'm very well educated and I keep my verses clean. At the same time I appeal to the guys that I grew up with. I don't degrade women or rap dirty or anything like that I'm just real about my experiences.
This is what I really do. That's why my name is J-Reall. My cousin, Tiyahnn Bryant, gave me that name in third grade and it kinda stuck.
Normally, when I read about a high school kid's burgeoning music career, I move along before clicking on anything that could cause permanent hearing damage or complete loss of faith in the next generation*. This time, though, I clicked on the link to Peppers' song (the YouTube video above), and... it's pretty solid. Great beat selection (MF DOOM), solid flow—he sounds like a sober Curren$y, which does not exist in nature—and surprisingly polished lyrics ("I had it restless/during my adolescence/not having my pops mad depressin'"); I gave it two listens and didn't regret it, which I can't say about 85% of newly-released rap.
Oh, right, the part you really care about:
I do feel like I'm gonna be coming to a decision soon though. I just want it all to be over and done with.
Peppers further clarified that point to Sam Webb, saying he hopes to move up his Stanford visit so he can make a decision in June ($). When asked what made such a strong impact on him during his visit to Michigan, Peppers summed it up in the best possible way [emphasis mine]:
It wasn’t the “red carpet treatment” that allowed the Wolverines to set the visit standard by which others are now being measured. Turns out, it was exact opposite.
“Real recognize real,” Peppers said matter-of-factly. “That’s the shortest and sweetest way you can say it. Real recognize real. They didn’t put on a show and they just kept it 100. Basically who they are -- they remind me of my coaches right now. That’s how comfortable we felt there. It was like wow, it was like we were still at (Paramus Catholic). That was the main thing, just the comfort level and just how down-to-earth those guys are. How they are with their players. They coach you hard and just everything. It was a great visit.”
Peppers also has plenty of good things to say about Michigan in a free interview over at The M Block. His recent interviews, as we've gleefully pointed out at every opportunity, point strongly towards Michigan being in command of his recruitment; I've heard very promising things that haven't been printed (and won't), as well. How do you feel about all this, Stanford coach David Shaw?
Their education is almost as good as Stanford's? When is almost enough for a true competitor? 3 BCS in a row, #1 education in D1 #gostanford
— David Shaw (@CoachDavidShaw) April 30, 2013
He took it personal, I guess.
*I say this as a former member of a high school ska band. I've self-inflicted enough damage.
[For the latest on K.J. Williams, Alex Bars, Kalen Ballage, Kyron Watson, and much more, hit THE JUMP.]
Football player, state champion wrestler.
As the basketball team made their way to the Final Four, the football team picked up a grayshirt commitment from Naples (FL) Barron Collier defensive lineman Brady Pallante. As a grayshirt commit, Pallante will pay his way through school during the 2014-15 scholastic year—during which time he cannot participate in team activities—before joining the team on full scholarship for the 2015 season. If it makes it easier, just consider him the first commitment for the 2015 class, and one who'll get a head start on the academic side of things.
|NR DT||NR DT||NR DT||2*, 77, #78 DT|
Pallante, as you can see, is not a high-profile recruit, and his offer list—only Appalachian State gave him a non-grayshirt offer—is in line with his early rankings. The four services peg Pallante at 6'1" and between 255-278 pounds, making him a pretty stout interior lineman in the Rob Renes mold.
If you see the above and are wondering why the coaches offered a scholarship to an unranked kid from Florida, Pallante—a lifelong Wolverine fan—camped at Michigan last summer and impressed the coaches, as well as making WolverineNation's list of top performers ($):
2014 Brady Pallante -- He's a Florida kid who definitely turned some heads in Ann Arbor on Monday. He has a good combination of size and speed, which Michigan is always looking for.
Pallante won a state championship in wrestling last winter, and apparently reminded the coaches of a certain former Wolverines with a similar pedigree on the mat, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($) [emphasis mine]:
Pallante, 6’1, 275 pounds finished an impressive junior year with 59 tackles, six sacks, and four forced fumbles, all from the interior of the defensive line, exactly what Michigan envisions him doing at the next level as a one technique.
“The coaches up at Michigan said I remind them a lot of Mike Martin,” said Pallante. “Coach Hoke just sat down with me and said, ‘we’re looking for a guy who can replace Mike Martin at nose guard and a guy that works hard and is a tough kid’.”
Actual scouting evaluations on Pallante are scant; the only one I can dig up is from 247's Clint Brewster, who broke down Pallante's film after his commitment ($):
At about 6-foot-1 and 260-pounds, Pallante has the short/stout frame you want for a defensive tackle to be able to get underneath offensive lineman and gain leverage. Pallante is very quick off the ball and has a number of moves in his arsenal to beat an offensive lineman. He has a brawlers mentality in the trenches and can stand his ground against the run.
Pallante's speed and strength are also noted as positives, while his size is his most apparent area for improvement.
As said above, Pallante's other offer was from Appalachian State. Rivals lists interest, but no offer, from Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Purdue, and UCF.
Per Scout, Pallante recorded 59 tackles, six sacks, and four forced fumbles in his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time. Rivals does have some lifting numbers: 370 lbs. bench max and 580 lbs. squat max.
Pallante doesn't have highlights on YouTube, but you can see an extensive junior reel on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Pallante could conceivably play either nose guard or three-tech, though it sounds like the coaches have him pegged as a nose, where he can utilize his leverage to hold the point of attack on the interior. Michigan has pulled in a nose guard in each of the last three classes (incl. 2014) in Ondre Pipkins, Maurice Hurst Jr., and Bryan Mone. When Pallante is able to join the team in 2015, he'll be operating behind those guys. At this juncture, it's tough to project him as much more than helpful depth at a position that usually rotates at least a couple of players, but we'll see where he's at after his senior season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Pallante accepted a grayshirt offer, his commitment doesn't affect the numbers for the 2014 class, and it's far too early to take a guess at the 2015 numbers with any real accuracy.
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]