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Monday, March 25, 2013
2014 PSU spotlight: CB Jabrill Peppers

By Josh Moyer

Over the next few months, NittanyNation will look closer at the 2014 recruits who claim offers from Penn State. Today we examine cornerback Jabrill Peppers, who's the top overall player on PSU's big board.

Vitals: CB Jabrill Peppers, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, 6-foot, 185 pounds

Offers: Let's put it this way -- he can basically go to any school he wants. His coach has turned away some colleges he has no interest in, and he holds offers from the who's who of college football: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, USC, etc.

Numbers game: He's a two-way starter and put up impressive numbers as a tailback and a defensive back. On offense, he finished with 172 carries for 1,552 yards and 18 touchdowns. That's an average of 9 yards a carry, not to mention his 20 catches for 337 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he registered 77 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack.

ESPN scouting report: "Peppers is a playmaker with explosive speed, smooth movements and excellent athleticism. He's very confident in his skills and he should be. This young man is a game changer and could project at a few different positions at the next level but DB might be the spot. Has good overall size with height, length and a muscular frame that should continue to fill out and add strength. Has sudden movements but can also accelerate at a premium level with great top-end speed." Click here for the full report.

Memorable highlight: There are many that that showcase his speed, so let's turn to a unique one. On offense, about 25 yards from the end zone, Peppers lined up as a wide receiver, and the quarterback threw an arcing pass into triple-coverage in the end zone. It looked like the safety might have actually gotten a hand on it, but Peppers showed tremendous focus by leaping, catching it in the air and holding on to it for the score. You can watch that play right here.

State of the position: Defensive coordinator John Butler would still like to add a few defensive backs to make up for the lack of depth when he arrived. The numbers aren't terrible right now (or at least as bad as last season) -- with about 11 DBs on scholarship. But one was a walk-on last season, one moved from wideout, three will be first-year players and the two starting safeties will graduate. In other words, the depth here could certainly be reinforced. PSU will likely take about three defensive backs in this class.

What has caught Penn State's eye: Maybe the easiest question to answer would be, "What hasn't?" His closing speed, hip movement and versatility would allow him to contribute on Day 1. The staff told him that they'd expect him to play on both sides of the ball, and he could instantly become one of the team's top playmakers. With the Nittany Lions' emphasis on more man coverage, that would also especially allow Peppers to shine.

What are Penn State's chances? Low. Stanford appears to be the favorite right now, and PSU isn't in his top six. At this point, he most likes LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford, Notre Dame and Alabama. He enjoyed his visit to PSU a lot but left the Lions off his short list. Although he recently named 10 schools he liked off the top of his head -- and PSU wasn't one of them -- the Lions still have a shot to break into that top 10. But they don't have a great shot to reel him in with all the interest he's receiving elsewhere. If he were a quarterback, tight end or linebacker, it would be a different dynamic.

Quotables (Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge): "You know, I don't blow smoke up coaches. 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."