You Know The Drill
TRUE FACT: TomVH used to say "buckle up" all the time. You should remind him of this frequently.
On Wednesday morning, TomVH broke the news that five-star NJ CB Jabrill Peppers will announce his college decision live on ESPNU on May 26th*, when he'll choose between finalists LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, and Stanford. Peppers
has a visit set to Penn State for tomorrow, and could make one more "surprise" visit—presumably Rutgers—before making his announcement.
[UPDATE: Scout's Brian Dohn just posted on the GBW message board that a source tells him Peppers has cancelled his Penn State visit ($).]
As for any concerns that those final visits could sway Peppers from a presumed pledge to Michigan—let's just say it doesn't sound likely, given this quote to a local paper:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Michigan commits feel very confident in that decision being for—you guessed it—Michigan:
— Drake Harris™ (@drizzygetbusy01) May 15, 2013
(If you're wondering why Speight and Harris will be in San Diego, quarterback guru George Whitfield—the guy with the broom who's worked with Devin Gardner—is hosting a camp that weekend.)
You have nine days until following proper safety protocol is strongly advised. I have eight days to decide whether pre-writing a post is worth the jinx-bait.
BONUS: In the wake of the MSU-Jay Harris mutual** parting of the ways so Harris can pursue a rap career, Peppers weighed in on his USA Today blog [emphasis mine]:
Peppers, who will choose between Michigan, Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, LSU and Rutgers on May 26, said that each school is well aware of his current rap career and long-term aspirations.
"They ask me about it all the time," Peppers said. "They're OK with it because my raps are clean. I just think if he (Harris) really wanted to pursue rap he could've gone about it a better way. I don't think anyone in their right mind would turn down a free education to a prestigious university to play football. It could only help your career."
Peppers said from broadening your vocabulary, to overwhelming exposure, to having an established fan base, "whether you're nice with your rap skills or not," college has "unlimited benefits" to boosting a career in the booth.
One key difference between Peppers and Harris, aside from the blunt-smoking and bailing on a free education: Peppers is nice on the mic, Harris... well, you've probably seen the video by now. I'm legitimately disappointed Leon McQuay III didn't sign on this year, both for the obvious reason—he's pretty good at football—and so he and Peppers could potentially form the elite defensive back version of JDK & Rey.
BONUS BONUS: Speaking of good defensive back recruits, IL CB Parrker Westphal could be approaching a commitment, per TomVH ($):
After his visit to Arizona State [this weekend] Westphal says he might take a trip to Tennessee, but nothing is set in stone. From there he will only focus on those schools on his list and continue to visit and evaluate what those programs have to offer. Westphal still says he is in no hurry to make a decision, but would like to get it done sooner than later.
“I want to make it before the season,” he said. “Games don’t start until August, but practice is in a few weeks so we’ll see when it happens.”
Michigan is "still the school he uses to compare other visits," and Westphal noted that his recent Florida visit went well... with the caveat that Michigan offers better academics. If he sticks to a summer decision timeline, it's hard to see him ending up elsewhere.
*Now a banner day for fans of Michigan football and Arrested Development. Peppers' announcement will hopefully ensure that I don't attempt to watch the entire fourth season in one sitting. (I probably will anyway.)
**Since Harris had signed a LOI, it's my understanding that State could not legally revoke his scholarship without consent, though the looming prospect of getting through admissions means Harris still didn't have much of a choice, in all likelihood.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the linebacker situation, new offers, Michigan visiting the son of rap royalty, and more.]
Sorting Out The Linebacker Situation
PA OLB Chase Winovich is still the clear-cut number one option to fill Michigan's need at strongside linebacker. While he's indicated that a decision should come soon between the Wolverines, Ohio State, and Pitt, new interest from some big-time schools may alter those plans, per The M Block:
What's next? "I'm trying to get a Pitt visit set up. I want to stay overnight and get a good look there. I'm thinking it might be this Wednesday, the weekend, or the following Wednesday. After that I'll probably have a good idea about what school I want to go to. With Ohio State and Michigan being like a campus school and Pitt being like an urban campus it could help me decide what feels right. I'm still trying to investigate a couple of different schools too and get some different looks. I'm not ready to close any doors yet. Alabama just came to my school on Friday, Stanford asked me to make a trip out there so it's going to be tough. When that time does come to make a decision, it's going to be one of the toughest decisions I've ever made, and it's going to be a lot of phone calls."
Will you decide by the end of May? "Anything is possible, that's all I can say to that. Whenever it feels right, it feels right and that's when I'll decide. I can't even say that my Pitt visit will be my last visit. If Alabama asks me to come down I might make a trip down there or if I can get out to Stanford I might want to see them. I'm not closing that window yet."
He sounds... conflicted. Ohio State experts think he's leaning towards the Buckeyes. Multiple Michigan experts think the Wolverines have a very good chance. It's unclear whether Winovich himself really knows what he wants to do, or when he wants to do it, even though he says "I think I have a leader in mind."
It's not surprising, then, that the Wolverines are looking at backup plans for outside linebacker. One is Kenton (OH) three-star Noah Furbush, who now holds a Michigan offer and has seen his recruitment take off recently—Ohio State appears to be the team to beat should they decide to offer, but it's unlikely they would if they land Winovich. Another is MO three-star Jimmie Swain, who has a solid offer sheet and tells The M Block that he's still very open in the recruiting process—the Wolverines recently checked in on him but have yet to extend an offer.
Michigan is also moving on 2015 linebackers, offering a pair of Texas prospects in the past week in Malik Jefferson and Cameron Townsend. Jefferson should be one of more decorated linebacker recruits in his class($)—his early offer list includes Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State, and Oklahoma—while Townsend has a Texas offer and interest from Notre Dame, per 247.
Show Him Tha Blue Carpet Treatment
SOUNDTRACK: Snoop Dogg. Surprise! (One of the best Snoop songs of the last decade, IMO.)
Michigan assistant Dan Ferrigno recently stopped by the school of 2015 Diamond Bar (CA) WR Cordell Broadus, per Scout's Kyle Bogenshutz ($). Normally, in-school visits to unoffered rising juniors don't merit mention in this space, but exceptions can be made—in this case, Broadus is the son of the one and only Snoop Dogg (real name: Calvin Broadus). While the Doggfather is a well-known USC fan—as is his son—the younger Broadus' high school coach has a Michigan connection:
“There’s not much you can say, it’s the Michigan name, you know?” said [Diamond Bar head coach Ryan] Maine. “All of the history and all of that. I played at the University of San Diego so my coach was Jim Harbaugh and so we started talking about Jack Harbaugh -- the dad -- because him and Jack used to coach together and I know Jim has Michigan ties.
“Just the cool stuff that happens pregame at Michigan and the crowd and all that. I told Cordell, they pack over 100,000 in that stadium every game and he was like, ‘for real?’”
Lest we forget, Snoop's been known to rock the Maize and Blue before. I, for one, would happily welcome the beginning of Michigan's G-Funk era.
Not shying away from the sons of famous fathers, the Wolverines also dropped in on 2016 WR Michael Irvin Jr., son of "The Playmaker", per Sam Webb.
Wilton Speight earns rave reviews from opposing coaches, per The Wolverine's Michael Spath ($):
"I worked with Matt Ryan when I was a kid and while it's too early to say Will will be the next Matt, at the same point in their development, this kid is right on that track," said Turner, who coaches against Speight at St. Christopher.
"If you dial up Division I quarterback, they would send you him from casting. He's smart, poised, has outstanding size and he's a gifted athlete, better than most people will give him credit for. He really hasn't shown me a weakness in two years."
Speight's arm strength was questioned when he committed, but another coach said that he has "a gun, and anyone that says otherwise hasn't seen him in person and hasn't tried to defend him," and stated that he can make any throw. Add this to the mounting pile of evidence that the Wolverines did their homework and truly believe they got an elite guy before his recruiting profile blew up.
Five-star CA ATH Juju Smith has set an official visit for the Notre Dame game, per Scout's Greg Biggins ($). Smith also set an official to Notre Dame and recently received an Alabama offer, so there will be plenty of competition for his signature.
TMD. This is terrifying. Michigan now #1 in ESPN's team rankings, which for some reason are paywalled. I'm now making Crystal Ball predictions on 247—check them out before anyone decides and my credibility is ruined.*
*Since someone will ask, my rationale for picking Artavis Scott to Florida: When I made that prediction, the two other experts to weigh in had him pegged for Michigan; I don't think he ends up here after quickly backing off the "package deal" idea when Mason Cole committed, and Florida is the other school he's given a close look at so far. No insider info here, just a hunch.