Thursday, May 30, 2013
By Michael Rothstein, Chantel Jennings & Tom VanHaaren
Every Thursday our writers sit down to discuss a few issues surrounding Michigan sports. With the commitment of Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, NJ/Paramus Catholic) still fresh, we figured we’d stick to three questions surrounding the No. 1 cornerback in the country.
1. With a guy like Peppers committing, which DB on Michigan's roster do you think could get left out when he arrives?
Tom VanHaaren: That's tough to answer because it's going to change. We don't know if he will start at corner when he gets there, or how he will initially contribute. We can assume that Blake Countess will have his spot locked down and will only be a redshirt junior when Peppers arrives. The other wrench in this scenario is the number of defensive backs Michigan brought in for the 2013 class. It seems as though Raymon Taylor would be the guy that would be moved if Peppers gets playing time immediately, but with Greg Mattison's defense and that many weapons they might just be able to move a few guys around and roll out different packages.
Chantel Jennings:Terry Richardson. He has the speed and he was the Wolverines' top commit in the 2012 class, but I just don’t see him adding the size and strength that Mattison wants in the secondary. Richardson is a good kid with a lot of motivation, but that only goes so far when you’re competing with kids like Peppers.
Michael Rothstein: Probably Richardson. The sophomore will be a junior when the highly-rated Peppers reaches campus and while Richardson will theoretically have experience by then, he will not have the size (6-foot-1) or strength (Peppers is built like a college player now, not even as a high school senior) to compete with him. Taylor and Countess will likely have spots locked down as they will be a senior and junior, respectively, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Peppers push past the rest of the waiting corners for some early playing time.
2. Peppers is the Wolverines first top five commit since the installation of ESPN's rankings. How surprised (if at all) are you by how quickly Brady Hoke was able to bring in that level of talent?
VanHaaren: I'd be lying if I said I weren't surprised. Hoke wasn't a flashy hire and recruits had no idea who he was when he arrived on campus. I think most people would be lying if they said they weren't surprised by all this. The only thing that doesn't surprise me is that Hoke and his staff get how to sell Michigan and really put the major selling points out in front. This is a family atmosphere, a good environment and somewhere a kid can get an excellent education.
Jennings: Quite surprised. I think most people have grown accustomed to the fact that Michigan will always have interest from top recruits, but actually getting commitments from those guys goes to the Alabama’s, USC’s and Texas’ of the world is a different thing altogether. This is a big statement for the Wolverines and the fact that Hoke has gotten that level of a player to commit to Michigan without a Big Ten title during his tenure says a lot.
Jabrill Peppers is athletic, but is he really versatile enough to be a bobsledder?
Rothstein: I am, but mostly for the reason of where Peppers came from. If he were a Michigan (or even Ohio or Illinois or Indiana) kid, then it would make some logical sense. But Peppers is Jersey born and raised and the state -- and the northeast -- has not been a recent pipeline for Michigan. But with the way Hoke and his super recruiter Mattison have been going, not much should surprise people at this point, especially recruiting defensive players.
3. With Peppers' ridiculous athleticism he could likely be good at nearly any sport. Which fringe sport do you think he could excel at?
VanHaaren: I bet he’d make a good bobsledder. He's really fast, but still has enough strength to push the sled. He's from New Jersey, so adjusting to the cold wouldn't be a problem. I've never seen him run on ice before, but I'm sure he'd be fine.
Jennings: Handball. I became captivated with the sport during the last Olympics and I think Peppers could dominate the world handball scene. Close seconds would be badminton and fencing -- good hand-eye coordination and quickness would make Peppers a nightmare for opponents.
Rothstein: It isn't a "fringe" sport, I guess, but lacrosse. He'd have the size, speed and athleticism to be either a great midfielder or a dynamic attack. Plus, he comes from an area of the country (the northeast) where the majority of the best lacrosse is played so he would be getting the highest level of instruction as a child.