The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.
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Michigan has already been active in seeking out 2014 defensive backs, and Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) is included on that list. Peppers has so many offers now, including the Wolverines, that he stopped keeping track.
“I used to worry about that stuff, like what offers I had, but I’ve matured and I can’t even tell you what offers I have now,” he said. “I probably got a hundred letters in the mail just today. The main schools that sent stuff were Ohio State, Rutgers, Stanford, USC and Miami.”
Peppers is becoming one of the top prospects in his class with top programs already knocking on his door. It’s still early, but Peppers says he is working off a top list for now.
“Stanford, USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Miami, Georgia and Rutgers,” he said. “That’s my top right now, but it could change. That’s not set in stone.”
The talented junior says he grew up a Michigan fan, but not from watching the Wolverines on Saturdays.
“When I was younger my cousin and I used to play NCAA football a lot. He used to always pick Notre Dame and Michigan was the only team that really matched up with them,” he said. “They had Mike Hart, [Mario] Manningham and I started looking more into them.”
He says he isn’t sure if his fandom will factor in his college choice. He wants to visit to see if he likes the school, which will be more of a determining factor than the video game.
Peppers says he’s a guy who hates to lose, is a hard worker and has a high football IQ. He has all the options in the world when it come to choosing a program so he plans on taking as much time as he can.
“I’m just taking things in right now, and I’ll get more serious at the end of my season or before the start of next season,” he said. “I more than likely am going to commit at the Army game, but I’m not sure yet.”
Michigan has offered one prospect for the 2015 class, one football player out of the thousands out there. That means that kid must have done something remarkable to stand out to the coaching staff, and running back Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern) has been more than remarkable.
“I’d say he’s an every 10 to 20 years type of kid. I’ve had multiple college coaches say the same thing,” Madison Southern Coach Jon Clark said. “He had 254 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries for us in our first game, and he only played two quarters. He averaged over 12 yards in just six games as a freshman on varsity last year, so we knew he was special.”
A sophomore in high school played two quarters of varsity football and scored five touchdowns. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds you can imagine why so many schools are already after the talented youngster.
Harris’ coach is no stranger to talent either, with coaching stints at Syracuse, Idaho State and even Auburn where Clark got to know a current Michigan coach very well.
“Al Borges, Michigan’s offensive coordinator, was the coordinator at Auburn when I was there under Tommy Tuberville,” he said. “It’s important for me to know that there’s good people, good coaches and good role models at these college programs. That’s why you call a guy like Al Borges, because he’s a great man.
“I know if Damien went to Michigan that Borges would see him to his full potential. Ultimately it’s his decision, but I can ensure that he’s around good people.”
That familiarity with the Michigan coach can only help the Wolverines’ chances, and on top of that the coaching staff has another positive in its corner.
“When some of the bigger schools came in we talked about what his top five would be, and seeing Michigan really set a standard for him,” he said. “He grew up a Michigan fan and seeing the place, the people and the tradition, that’s the caliber program he’s interested in.”
Harris is 15 years old and according to his coach runs in the 4.4-second range in the 40-yard dash and can power clean 265 pounds. He also runs track and has put up numbers in the 10.6-second range for the 100 meter dash. This is a special kid to say the least, and he has gotten high praise from just about everyone he comes in contact with.
“I’ve never seen a kid like him at this age. He reminds me of some kids we had at Auburn; I feel like he’s as far along as some of those guys at his age,” he said. “We brought him up to varsity as a freshman and he took his first three carries as a freshman in a scrimmage for 55-yard touchdowns.