After Jabrill Peppers announced his intention to take official visits, multiple outlets speculated that this brewing storm could very well blow over by the time Peppers has finished taking his official to Ann Arbor next weekend. According to Mike Farrell, that appears to be the case ($):
Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers made a huge splash last week when he tweeted that he was going to take official visits despite his commitment to Michigan. Now the word is that Peppers will take his official visit to Michigan on Dec. 13 with his mom and that will likely end the process. Alabama appeared to be the biggest threat to the Wolverines, but now I hear that most close to Peppers want him to stick to his word and play in Ann Arbor. Stanford was the only school everyone green lit and that apparently isn't going to happen this late. Michigan coaches will be on hand en force this Friday for Peppers' final game and then the following weekend I expect them to close things out on his official. Crisis averted barring a surprise.
Further corroboration comes from Peppers himself, who contemplated his future Michigan uniform number on Twitter yesterday:
In this case, the (mis)use of "Big Blue" is completely forgiven. The important part is Peppers wanting to follow in Charles Woodson's footsteps.
THIS CALLS FOR A FEAST.
Forks are for spread enthusiasts, anyway.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Malik McDowell's top schools and visit plans, the 2014 running back situation, visit reactions from The Game, and more.]
Malik McDowell's Top 7, Visit Plans
Per Allen Trieu, Malik McDowell announced a top seven of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, and LSU yesterday. McDowell also received an in-home visit from Greg Mattison and Fred Jackson, who pitched the opportunity for immediate playing time, per Sam Webb ($):
“(Malik) is a key piece to what they want to do as far as having a pass rusher and him being that key piece,” said [Malik's father Greg] McDowell. “He is down to roughly close to 280. At the three-technique they want to put the kid from (the outside) last year (i.e. Chris Wormley) and move him to the middle… and then play Malik on the outside. They’re giving him that opportunity to compete for a starting position. They’re not talking about holding him back.”
The elder McDowell also passed along Malik's official visit plans: Alabama this weekend, Florida the next, with Florida State, Ohio State, and LSU also receiving visits; he doesn't need to use an official to see the two in-state schools, and he's already seen both several times. A decision won't come at the Army All-American Game, his original intention, but should come in January once he's done with his officials.
2014 Running Backs: Enwere Or Bust?
A second Michigan-related tidbit from that Mike Farrell column: four-star 2014 CO ATH Kalen Ballage will take his officials to Michigan State, Boise State, Nebraska, Washington and Arizona State, with the Spartans and Broncos considered to be his leaders. That leaves Michigan out of the picture.
However, that doesn't mean the Wolverines will necessarily strike out on running backs in this class. Three-star TX RB and Cal commit Vic Enwere will get an in-home visit from the coaches on Saturday, and he's already set up an official visit, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"I'm visiting Michigan December 13 on an official, and I'm probably going to go to Cal January 24," he added of his visit schedule. "I haven't been to Cal. This is going to be my first time going, but I've heard a lot about the school, there was enough for me to want to commit. I don't necessarily know what I'm looking for [on trips]. I want to see what the facilities look like, how the day-to-day lifestyle is there, climate, just what the players and students think of it, just the atmosphere."
It's very much worth noting that Enwere has yet to see the school he's currently committed to; he's still considering a handful of schools—including Mizzou, TCU, and UCLA—in addition to the two he's set to visit. He seems like a strong candidate to flip his commitment, and Michigan looks to be the top choice if he doesn't stick with Cal.
GBW has a litany of visit reactions from top 2015 prospects who attended The Game. A quick rundown:
2015 four-star OH LB Justin Hilliard said Michigan's commits were recruiting him "as much as the coaches," and the Wolverines will make the cut when he narrows his recruitment next month, per Sam Webb ($).
2015 in-state four-star ATH Brian Cole said Fred Jackson "is like family already," and maintained that he has no top school so far, per Webb ($). Michigan is recruiting him as a receiver while MSU is looking at him as a defensive back.
2015 four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins said he "would have a home there and a family," if he committed to Michigan, though he also had very high praise for Ohio State's coaching staff in an interview with... you guessed it, Sam Webb ($).
The only one of these prospects without an offer, 2015 IN LB Darrin Kirkland, left campus hoping that one comes soon after discussing his potential role with Coach Smith ($).
Commit Shaun Crawford was also at the Big House and told Steve Lorenz he's "100% committed to Michigan," despite recently receiving an offer from Ohio State ($). He's planning to be on campus next weekend, as well—a big weekend for visits from current commits as well as uncommitted targets.
The 2014 Rivals250 was updated this week. Jabrill Peppers remains at #2 overall; he's now the only Michigan commit in the top 100 after Drake Harris—who sat out the year with a hamstring injury—fell from #62 to #106. Touch The Banner has the full rundown; Mason Cole, Bryan Mone, and Michael Ferns all dropped a relatively small number of spots.
One of Michigan's first 2016 offers, GA TE Isaac Nauta, has Florida State at the top of his list, per Scout's Chad Simmons ($).
If you missed it, Brandon caught up with 2015 QB targets Zach Gentry and Jimmy Fitzgerald.