"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
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
-------------- *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.]
Michigan is the presumed leader for PA WR K.J. Williams, who nearly committed to the Wolverines when he visited campus earlier this month. Since that visit, however, Michigan reeled in two receiver commits—Williams talked about the impact of that to Sam Webb in the wake of a solid visit to his #2 school, Syracuse ($):
The [Syracuse] trip served as confirmation to the four-star wideout that his choice to wait to commit was indeed the right one. The downside to that decision, however, is since the delay the recruiting picture at Michigan changed considerably. Wideouts Drake Harris and Maurice Ways are now Wolverine commits, and the numbers crunch has brought the decision timelines of the remaining receiver targets into greater focus. Williams is aware of the situation, but is determined to not let it affect his process.
“They’re taking three, but (It’s) not really (speeding up his decision timetable) because I don’t feel like rushing anything,” he said.
Williams still plans to take a visit to Miami (YTM) and possibly Kansas State; he says a decision could come at any time before his senior season. With two receiver prospects in the fold and several other targets on their radar, I don't think Michigan would wait for Williams, but depending on his decision timeline they may not have to do so.
Four-star TN OT Alex Bars (yeah, Blake's brother) told 247's Ryan Callahan that he's got a final five in mind and may take one more visit before making a decision ($). He won't name any leaders; the consensus on 247 is that he'll choose Michigan, but Notre Dame—where his father played linebacker—is also a serious contender.
Even if Bars waits to make a decision or chooses the Irish, it appears we have a date by which Michigan will have added to their class, as Illinois prospect Kyron Watson is all but flat-out saying he'll take the last linebacker spot after his upcoming visit, per GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
After extending a scholarship offer to Watson at the beginning of April, the Wolverines surged to the top of his list and continue to hold that post today. Hoping to be done with the recruiting process as soon as possible, Watson will take a trip to Ann Arbor on May 20th, with a decision to come not long after that.
When asked how likely a commitment might be if he’s blown away on his visit, Watson couldn’t hold back.
“It’s a high chance,” said Watson. “I’m not going to lie and say it’s not. It’s a high chance.
PA LB Chase Winovich is considered the other top contender for the last LB spot; he's looking like an Ohio State lean at this point, however, so it appears Watson will be a Wolverine before too long.
CO RB Kalen Ballage is, at this point, probably the most likely running back target to land at Michigan in a year when the Wolverines don't have a huge need at the position. Ballage named a top four (in no order) of Boise State, Michigan, Nebraska, and Arizona State in an interview with Sam Webb ($). Ballage mentions early-to-mid June as the time when he should make a trip to Ann Arbor, though his recruitment will likely extend into the fall; if we're playing the "read way too much into a 16-year-old's quotes" game, his review of Michigan stood out compared to the other three schools—when asked what stood out about the Wolverines, his first response was "Oh man, so many different things," which tends to be a good sign.
Southfield DE/LB Lawrence Marshall could be closing in on a(nother) decision, per Rivals' Branden Hunter ($). The former Ohio State pledge hinted at a May commitment; if that happens, he'll probably end up at Michigan State, where he's been a steady campus presence in recent weeks.
One guy who's not close at all to a commitment is PA S Montae Nicholson, who's taking the recruiting process with a refreshing amount of deliberation. He tells Tim Sullivan that he plans to take a summer visit to Michigan, and while his wait-and-see approach to recruiting has made some thing he's fallen off the Wolverines' radar, that's not the case ($):
One school that jumped on him early - but has seemed to fade since - is Michigan. The Wolverines pulled the trigger on Nicholson after a strong performance at their annual summer camp, and although he has been to Ann Arbor multiple times, he hasn't been a hot name on U-M's radar. That's a mistake, because he's still very interested in the Maize and Blue.
"I do still hear from them a lot," Nicholson said. "Coach Funk, Coach Mattison, I hear a lot from a lot of them. They're just telling me how much they want me, how I could be an asset to the team, how I could help. How it is up there, things like that."
This class has the potential to fill up in a hurry; if it doesn't, expect Michigan to be in it for Nicholson through the entire process.
Let's check in on the best player in the state of Michigan, shall we? ($)
“Like two days ago Drake [Harris] hit me up on Twitter and was like, ‘When you going to join the family?’ or something like that,” [Malik] McDowell recalled. “I was like, ‘I ain’t going to college.’
I was just messing around with him. Yeah, all the 2014 commits form [sic] Michigan are trying to get me to come.
(Actual good news on McDowell comes in a free Big Ten recruiting overview from 247's Steve Wiltfong, who says that "those close to the situation" believe he'll land at Michigan.)
LOST: One Legendary Running Back
2015 NY TE/DE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. visited campus for the Spring Game and was accompanied by his famous father. Well, sort of...
“He was not around,” Tyrone Wheatley Jr. said of his dad. “He was there… he came with me, but when we got there, he was like, ’he's the recruit… you guys got him? I'm going to go look around because I haven't been here in a minute.’ So he went around and enjoyed himself. He ran into old friends, went to old meeting places, and all that good stuff. He went and bought some beer (laughter), caught up with everybody; so he enjoyed himself. He just stayed out of the picture. I didn't see him until after the scrimmage. Everybody was like ‘where's your dad? Where's your dad?’ I was like ‘I have no idea.’ (Laughing). “Then when we were walking back up the tunnel, he was in the tunnel.”
Junior is taking his time with his recruitment and won't name any leaders. He had a good time at Michigan; presumably, so did his father.
Four-star 2014 PA CB Dravon Henry landed an offer from Michigan recently, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($). He's previously named a top four of Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, and West Virginia, so the Wolverines have work to do to get serious consideration; Henry says he intends to visit Ann Arbor, so Michigan should at least get a shot.
The Wolverines offered a full ride to another 2014 defensive back, FL CB/S Quincy Wilson, on Wednesday afternoon ($). Wilson is a borderline 3/4-star who says he wants to play corner; listed at 6'2", 200 lbs. before his senior season, he seems a lot more likely to end up at safety. He's still relatively early in the process of narrowing down schools, so this recruitment should extend into the fall.
Also receiving offers this week, per 247, were 2015 prospects NC DE Darian Roseboro and IL DE Terry Beckner Jr—both are strong-side DE prospects, so it appears the coaches have identified a future need at that position.
Four-star 2014 RB/WR Christian McCaffreycommitted to Stanford this morning. He had an offer from Michigan but their recruitment of him never really got going from either end.
Grayshirt commit Brady Pallantewon the 2012-13 Wrestler of the Year award from the Naples News after defeating the spectacularly-named Fequierson Charles—an undefeated senior who had beaten Pallante twice earlier in the season—for the Florida 2A state title.
Top-ranked 2015 kicker Andrew David—from Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington—grew up a Michigan fan in enemy territory and is discussing the possibility of both kicking and playing baseball for the Wolverines, per ESPN's Brad Bournival ($).
It makes him look petty to be tweeting crap like that. Maybe that passes for appropriate conduct in the recruiting world, but I cannot fathom Hoke ever saying something like that. More evidence that tweeting is usually a bad idea.
"While most of Michigan’s quarterback recruiting attention went to Terrelle Pryor when Rich Rodriguez first took over, the Wolverines also took a run B.J. Daniels. Michigan offered him a scholarship and he set up an official visit, but the trip never took place. Instead, the South Florida offer was one that Michigan could not match."
I was a premium member at the UM Scout.com site at that time and it was intimated that Daniels and his family asked for a "little something extra" besides the full ride scholarship to UM and Michigan stopped recruiting him at that point.
Yes, I know those kind of accusations are completely unprovable but it wasn't something that was leveled at every kid who turned UM down and it's not like Daniels was some elite recruit which would lead to an unusual amount of butthurt at missing on him. Likelihood of rumor being true? I'd guess, pretty high.
Personally, having cursorily watched his college career at a distance, I'd say UM lucked out big time.
I think this is ridiculous. First of all I wouldn't believe anything the non-Sam Scout mod says, especially when he "intimates" rather than actually says it. He says the most vague and inconclusive ish and speaks in code so that nobody can ever say that he was wrong about anything. If you ever think he's wrong, its probably because you just didn't crack his code speak properly. I remember when I was on that site, a story of a commit would break on Rivals, and he would say, "no, that person hasn't committed yet." Then like 1 minute later he would say, "okay, now he committed, we broke the story first, he hadn't committed yet when it was reported elsewhere." That guy is a clown. If Sam didn't say it, and it came from that site, I'd say the likelihood of the "rumor" that he put into people's heads without actually saying it, is probably very low.
Re: Michigan's involvement in the recruitment of the players who went in last month's NFL Draft
I can't believe how many of these guys were recruited by Llloyd Carr's staff. The RR era alone seems like two lifetimes ago, much less the Lloyd era. Yet some of these guys saw all three coaching staffs up close and personal.
J. Peppers sounds like a very intelligent young man ...
if there's any truth to the David Shaw comment ... then he'll see the Michigan difference immediately. Coach Hoke and his staff talk about MICHIGAN ... no one else. Michigan can stand on its own with the scope of its academics and is comparable to anyone ... and it's a public institution. Keeping it real in the world of "private" colleges ... just doesn't exist !
No place on earth I'd rather be on a football Saturday than Michigan Stadium !
I love the story about Tyrone Wheatley. In contrast to some of the more infamous overbearing parents of up and coming athletes, Wheatley Sr just letting his son do his thing is really cool. I gotta think the genuine joy at being back at his Alma Mater and seeing the people and places again would be way more convincing than any sales pitch he could have made anyway.
It's funny - when he started out saying "He was not around," my heart sank a little because I thought he was talking about his childhood and saying that Tyrone Sr., one of my favorite players ever, was an absentee parent. But then it turned out that he was talking just about the visit, and it sounds like Sr. was being a pretty cool dad.
Shaw comes across, um, not that well in those tweets. Stanford is a great school, but for most athletes I'm not sure if there is a major difference in terms of academic prestige at some point. I mean, if you plan on going to medical school after your pro career is over, like Dr. Robert Smith, then maybe Stanford helps you out more than UM. But for most people, you'll get a great education at either place, and I'd bank on the winningest program in NCAA history to keep me in the national conversation over a school that has had these peaks and valleys before.
Disagree on even that. A UM pre-med also nothing to scoff at. Hell, really any undergrad is fine as long as you do well and give the appropriate effort. My sister did her undergrad at MSU and then did her PhD in biochem at Yale. Frankly, if you plan on doing any post grad work, your undergrad becomes more irrelevant as long as you do a great job at it. Undergrad really matters if you want to take that undergrad degree straight into the work place.
Because there's a lot of elite talent in other areas this year where Michigan has begun to make inroads. They've clearly been focusing on Florida, New Jersey and Virginia (Utah I suppose as well) - keep in mind they just pulled the number 1 RB in the country from the east coast. Of course Ohio is important, but Hoke has also talked about recruiting well within a 5 hour drive in every possible direction, and that's why you see states like Illinois and Pennsylvania being focused on as well.
I don't know a ton about the 2015 class yet, but there are several 2014 guys in Michigan and elsewhere who are as good as anyone in Ohio. There are a couple quality receivers in Ohio (Watkins, Kief), but Harris and Ways are just as good or better. If you can get Hand and McDowell, there's no need to offer Ohio guys at the SDE/DT position. So on and so forth. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see it as a monster class in Ohio for 2014. I think it was a much better class a couple years ago when they had Adolphus Washington, Ifeadi Odenigbo, etc.
Winovich is the higher-rated player, most would argue he has the higher ceiling (in addition to 3 inches on Watson). Watson has been looking to set up his latest visit for a while, there's some talk that Michigan slow played him a little to get one last crack at Winovich, who will have the time to take the spot before Watson. Depsite the size difference, I personally prefer Watson, but can understand why he doesn't fit great at SAM. Then again, I believe Ferns could play SAM, but apparently the coaches want big linebackers at all spots - allegedly they tweaked model for an ideal linebacking corps after playing Bama.
After what has happened with the last couple Crete-Monee players, I'm not surprised that the Nyles Morgan thing hasn't got off the ground. And Clifton Garrett hasn't even been offered, I don't think. He's a MIKE prospect and the coaches want(ed) Michael Ferns III to play MIKE, although the offer to Watson suggests that maybe they could take an ILB prospect and move Ferns to OLB.
I notice that Shaw didn't have any catty comebacks for the average of 40-something thousand fans in attendance at Stanford games in 2012, or bragged about the 30,000 that were in attendance against UCLA for the Pac12 championship.
Shaw had a killer OL class last year, but I'm curious to see if he can build on the foundations that Harbaugh built.