Sunday, May 26, 2013
What now for Peppers' other finalists?
By Jared Shanker
The No. 2 player in the country is going to Michigan. The Wolverines coaches are elated five-star Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers is headed to Ann Arbor, but that means five other coaching staffs are going back to the recruiting board and moving on down the list.
So where do those five teams go from here?
Of Peppers’ top four, the Tigers were the last to host him on a visit, but the unofficial to Baton Rouge essentially knocked LSU out of the running. Defensive back is a position the Tigers rarely find themselves in a bind at, and there is little doubt LSU will be able to recover just fine. Four-star Chris Hardeman, No. 22 among cornerbacks, is committed, and ESPN 150 products Edward Paris Jr. and Devin Voorhies are pledged safety. Top 10 cornerbacks Tony Brown and Nick Watkins, both from nearby Texas, are high on the Tigers.
Cornerback was a major position of need in the 2013 class for the Irish, and they addressed it with four-star prospects Devin Butler, Rashad Kinlaw and Cole Luke. Class of 2012 signee KeiVarae Russell was an impact player as a freshman, and the Irish could use similar production from one of the 2013 members. Peppers would have brought the potential of an instant contributor to Notre Dame’s defensive backfield and possibly return game and even offense in 2014. Landing ESPN 150 athlete John Smith, who will likely play safety in college, is now even more important, and Notre Dame has already secured an official visit. The Irish also have offered six of the top 12 cornerbacks nationally, excluding Peppers.
The loss of Peppers hurts the Buckeyes on several fronts. First, Ohio State was sitting at No. 2 on Peppers’ list before his unofficial visits in April, and that meant the Buckeyes were really No. 1, as Stanford was never a true top school. So not only do the Buckeyes miss out on the top cornerback in the country, but they lose him to Michigan. The silver lining is the Buckeyes are stocking talent at corner. Eli Apple and Cam Burrows, ESPN 150 corners in the 2013 class, are already on campus, and 2014 ESPN 150 corner Damon Webb is committed. The Buckeyes are still after Tony Brown, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson in the 2014 class.
Nittany Lions fans could not help but get their hopes up the last two weeks, as Peppers said he would visit State College once more. When he first visited Penn State, Peppers said the Lions impressed him enough that he considering moving them into his top five. The weekend before his decision, Peppers was scheduled to visit Penn State but never made the trip. Penn State has some pieces at cornerback in the 2014 class already, however. Athlete Daquan Worley will likely line up at corner. Four-star and ESPN 150 defensive back Dravon Henry has Penn State in his top four, and four-star Troy Vincent Jr. is very high on the Lions.
The loss of Peppers is another tough in-state blow for Rutgers, which is struggling to land the top in-state talent. The Scarlet Knights did a good job in previous years, but many of the top prospects in the 2013 class left the state, and it’s looking like much of the same for 2014. Rumors swirled in the two weeks leading up to Peppers’ commitment that he would choose the Knights, but Rutgers was never a serious contender. While the Knights have done a fine job developing players, especially in the defensive secondary, it no doubt hurts that the top player in the state is heading elsewhere.