Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Jabrill Peppers, a new 2014 offer, visit reactions, and more.
Must-Read Of The Week: Jabrill Peppers Feature
NJ ATH Jabrill Peppers is a state champion, honor roll student, and five-star prospect, with every major program in the country in pursuit of his signature come Signing Day. Read ESPN's Jared Shanker's feature on Peppers and his childhood in East Orange, New Jersey, however, and you'll get an appreciation for just how much he had to overcome to reach that point. His older brother, Don Curtis, was murdered in 2010 at the age of 20. Jabrill could only talk to his father, imprisoned since 2007 for a weapons charge, by phone. Peppers told Shanker that the street life in East Orange nearly sucked him in, as well:
"Oh man, I've seen people get stabbed, shot, beat up," Peppers said. "Saw my boys steal cars then crash into a light pole, other things at night, seeing guys selling the illegal products."
But ask about specifics, some of the things he has taken part in, and he clams up. He answers quickly. That smile so many people love to talk about leaves his face. He wants to move on to the next question.
"Too much to name that I got away with because of my athleticism," Peppers said. "I don't want to say too much more on that, but too much that I'm ashamed with."
Peppers has moved on to star both on and off the field; a perennial honor student, he currently holds Stanford—with their rigorous academic standards even for athletes—as his leader. Michigan is currently in his top five, joined by LSU, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Peppers says he is a long way from a decision; wherever he goes, he's a player who will be easy to root for.
[For the latest on Michigan's most recent offer, plus visit reactions and Drake Harris's newest visit plans, hit THE JUMP.]
New Offer + Visit Reactions
Per multiple outlets, Michigan recently offered four-star Cincinnati (OH) Archbishop Moeller LB Sam Hubbard, a one-time Notre Dame lacrosse commit who opened up his recruitment after deciding to focus on football in college. According to 247's Steve Lorenz, Hubbard is already quite familiar with the tradition of Michigan athletics ($):
Michigan is recruiting Hubbard to play outside linebacker, a position that Hubbard could potentially thrive at considering he stands at a tall 6'6". He's also pretty familiar already with the Wolverines as his uncle, Garde Thompson, was a former basketball player for the program back in the mid-80s.
"I've always liked Michigan," Hubbard stated. "The Big House is an amazing place to be on Saturdays and the program is back to where they've always been. I know they're bringing in some big time recruits as well and have always been a great academic school as well. There's a lot to like about them and they're a school I was hoping to get an offer from."
Hubbard also told Lorenz that he has a visit to Ann Arbor tentatively set for April 6th. The Wolverines may be facing an uphill battle here, however—Hubbard also has offers from Stanford, Michigan State (which has landed several top Moeller prospects in recent years), and Ohio State, and he told The M Block that his home state school currently leads:
"[The Michigan offer is] big news and I'm very excited about it. I'm going to try and get on campus sometime in April. It's too early to tell who I really like with all of these offers coming in lately, but I would say Ohio State is my leader."
A decision could come before his senior season and perhaps as soon as this summer, so Hubbard's visit experience in Ann Arbor next month—should he make it to campus—will play a very large role in Michigan's chances of landing him.
As spring practices continue, Michigan has hosted a few visitors over the last week. One of them was four-star MO OL Roderick Johnson, who told Steve Lorenz the visit was positive from both an athletic and academic standpoint—and mentioned that one of Michigan's current linemen made a strong recruiting pitch ($) [emphasis mine]:
"At Michigan I didn't really feel any pressure and immediately felt comfortable around the guys," he said. "I didn't get nervous or tensed up at all; everybody was really friendly and sociable. I got to meet Taylor Lewan as well which was great because I know how great of an offensive lineman he is. He passed up the NFL to come back to Michigan, which says a lot about what kind of program it is."
Johnson is a long way off from a decision, but Lorenz says to expect Michigan to make his next cut when he decides to narrow things down.
Lima (OH) Central Catholic DB Darius West has visited Ann Arbor several times, but he hadn't had the chance to spend much one-on-one time with the coaches; that changed on Friday, as West told Sam Webb($) that he and Curt Mallory are "getting real tight" after West took in a practice and sat in on a defensive backs meeting. West hopes to earn a camp offer from the Wolverines this summer, and also shed some light on the current scholarship situation, via everyone's favorite recruiter:
“I talked to Denard Robinson and he was real cool,” the four-star prospect said. “He was telling me that the coaches weren’t going to try to (play games) with me. They’re going to be honest with me. They don’t have time to play around with recruits because in our class they only have 16 scholarships. That was good to hear from him.”
Expect that number to grow eventually, but for now the coaches are preparing to bring in a very small class.
The M Block also has a visit reaction from Clarkson DB Tim Cason, who's hoping for his first BCS offer—if Michigan were to come through with one, likely after seeing him in a camp setting, he could be quick to commit.
247Sports updated their 2014 Top247, and while two of Michigan's commits fell, one made an impressive debut. Bryan Mone had been previously unranked on 247, but he's now on the list at #51 overall, making him the #6 DT in the class; as scouts take notice, he's making a push towards consensus top-100 status.
Mason Cole dropped from #44 to #103, while Michael Ferns fell from #98 to #174. Both have been on the recruiting radar for a while, so it's not a huge surprise to see them fall some as the services unearth more prospects like Mone. Before commencing ANGER, please note that both players are still regarded as high four-star players. For the full rundown of Michigan recruits on the new Top247, check out Touch The Banner.
Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, MI WR Drake Harris will visit Michigan for the Spring Game on April 14th ($). While Harris hasn't claimed a leader since opening up his recruitment, that will be the fourth time he'll be on campus since late February—every indication points to the Wolverines holding an edge, though they'll still have to fight off several top-flight programs to land the top-100 receiver.
Michigan made the top 15 for four-star PA RB Shai McKenzie.
Steve Wiltfong had a free, detailed rundown of the top performers from Sunday's Adidas Showcase at Grand Valley State, which featured several Michigan targets, including the Cass Tech crew and Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall.