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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Visit to PSU impresses CB Peppers

By Josh Moyer

Before Wednesday's visit, Penn State wasn't even in cornerback Jabrill Peppers' top 10.

He could pick just about any school in the country. Why pick the Nittany Lions? Why not go to the SEC? Or, at the very least, a school not mired in NCAA sanctions? Peppers' coach at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, Chris Partridge, told the ESPN Watch List prospect to just trust him. Just visit Penn State, he said. You'll like it.

Peppers figured he had nothing to lose. His coach never steered him wrong before, so he hit the road with two teammates -- QB Steve Shanley and OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty -- around 6:30 a.m. After spending about six hours on campus, Peppers walked back to their Ford Explorer and turned to his head coach.

"You're right, Coach," Partridge remembered Peppers saying. "I liked it up there."

Peppers tweeted a photo of him trying on a No. 5 jersey alongside Shanley and offensive tackle Bushell-Beatty. Peppers wrote, "Visit to PSU was great! Might've cracked my top 5."

Partridge said Penn State seemed like a good fit for Peppers because he finds Bill O'Brien to be incredibly straight-forward, just like the ESPN Watch List prospect. The Paramus Catholic coach said he was also extremely impressed with O'Brien and the type of season he had. Between that and the facilities, he felt Peppers would enjoy himself.

And, sure enough, he did. But, does PSU really have a shot at Peppers -- or was Peppers' immediate reaction a temporary, in-the-moment feeling?

"You know, I don't blow smoke up coaches," he said. "There are a lot of coaches I don't even let communicate with Jabrill, that I tell up-front that they have no shot because Jabrill has no interest. But he was very excited when we left, so there's no doubt in my mind we'll take another trip there."

Peppers and Co. arrived around 10:30 a.m. and were greeted by Penn State's coaching staff. Each player spoke with his respective position coach for about an hour and broke down some film. From there, they toured Beaver Stadium, hung out with some players and spoke to academic advisers.

And, according to Partridge, the staff informed Peppers that he's the No. 1 overall prospect on their big board.

"They said to Jabrill, 'You're honestly the No. 1 kid we've seen in the country and we want you to play here,' " the coach said. "And if you come in here and you do what we think you can, you can play offense too."