Thursday, April 4, 2013
Michigan visit 'valuable' for Jabrill Peppers
By Jared Shanker
ESPN Watch List defensive back Jabrill Peppers and high school teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty enjoyed their unofficial visit to Michigan.
Being a fan of a program growing up does not necessarily mean a player will sign with the school. That could be the case with Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and Michigan.
But that does not mean Peppers, who still has Michigan in his top four, was not soaking up every minute of his two-day trip to see his childhood favorite.
“Jabrill grew up a Michigan fan, so this is a huge experience for him whether he goes there or not,” Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge said. “You should have seen him when he went out on the field. He was running around like a little kid.”
Peppers, an ESPN Watch List athlete and one of the country’s most coveted prospects, is making a Midwest swing visiting Michigan and Ohio State with Partridge and teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who also holds a Michigan offer. Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan and LSU are Peppers’ top group, in order.
Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson spent significant time with Peppers. Talking with Robinson and the other players on the team made a big impression on Peppers, Partridge said.
“It was valuable for his process,” Partridge said. “A guy like Denard and the guys on the team, they’re not bashing other schools; they’re saying how great Michigan is and how excited they are to be there.
“Jabrill’s a smart kid and he’s going to see the good things and bad things and make a smart decision, and he’s really excited about what he’s seen so far.”
Bushell-Beatty, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound Under Armour All-American, enjoyed his visit just as much as Peppers. Finishing up just his third year of playing football and first year as a starter, the big offensive tackle began racking up offers over the last few months. Florida, Florida State and Michigan offers all came within a few days of each other.
He visited Boston College last week, but it’s his visit to Michigan that has him grinning from ear to ear.
“He’s very impressed. He likes it a lot,” Partridge said. “He likes the team and the coaches a lot, said the camaraderie and atmosphere reminds him of us. He’s had a smile the whole time.”
Michigan already has a 2014 commitment at the position in Mason Cole and took two in the 2013 class, but the Wolverines could take as many as two more tackles in a class expected to finish with three offensive linemen overall.
Bushell-Beatty’s size is what separates him from some of the other linemen the Wolverines have offered.
“They’re looking to bring in a big tackle. I know that’s one of their main goals,” Partridge said. “They’re very high on Juwann. They like him and he’s high on their board.”
Count Partridge among the Paramus Catholic bunch to be blown away with what Michigan has to offer. On Thursday, the three were shown the facilities and the rich tradition in the morning before meeting with academic advisers. What Partridge liked was how the academic staff helps its players find the right careers even if it follows an NFL career.
He also could see Michigan coach Brady Hoke returning the program to its foundation, to the ideals of legendary coach Bo Schembechler. He spent an hour just talking with Hoke and the coaches, and Partridge said “you get a good vibe around the place.”
“Michigan is getting back to Michigan, the tradition of the school and how they were,” he said. “You see the big O-line, big tight ends, run the ball and pound it, good quarterback that can sling it around. The defense is physical, physical cornerbacks, nasty defensive line. The Thursday practice they were going all out, aggressive and getting after it. You don’t see that at many schools.
“They’re like us. That was impressive and Jabrill sees that.”