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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
'Brotherhood' drew N.J. duo to Michigan

By Brad Bournival

ESPN 300 standouts Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and his teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty don’t know what it’s like to be a Michigan man.

But the two have a pretty good idea.

Peppers, who is ranked second in the ESPN 300 and is ranked as the top cornerback in the nation, grew up a Wolverines fan. So he has a pretty good idea about what it means.

Bushell-Beatty, who is the ninth-best offensive tackle and is ranked 122nd in the class, is learning just how big Wolverine Nation is.

“It means a lot,” Peppers said. “When you grow up loving the tradition and grow up a Michigan fan, to be able to join them and leave that imprint on that dynasty and tradition, you just can’t wait to get there.”

Bushell-Beatty saw what it meant after a visit. He committed on April 29. Peppers waited almost a month later, but committed for reasons other than Michigan’s success.

The rich tradition and the Big Ten and national championships might go a long way for some, but these two it was much more than a trophy case and future dreams.

“You want to play people you love and you want people to play off the love you have for them,” Peppers said. “When you play for the other guy, it makes you that much better.

“I understand college is a business; it’s more business than in high school, where you do have that brotherhood. Michigan is the closest thing to that.”

That’s what Bushell-Beatty saw almost immediately. He had a strong feeling Peppers would follow him to Michigan, but what he felt from the 2014 class already made things a natural fit.

Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Juwann Bushell-Beatty is ranked No. 122 in the ESPN 300.
Now, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Bushell-Beatty is in frequent contact with Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School), Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), Chase Winovich (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) and Mason Cole(Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake). And his high school teammate, of course. Peppers is the self-proclaimed commissioner of the class, with Speight and Ferns following in line behind him.

“We talk about who we want to get and what we want to do when we get there. That brotherhood and that Michigan degree, once you get that degree you can work wherever you want to work," Peppers said. "You can come back to the games and stay in contact with these guys, you can’t beat it. I plan to room with [Bushell-Beatty] if they allow us to. I already have that established friend on top of the brotherhood. It’s amazing.”

Peppers and Bushell-Beatty crack on each other, measure each other up statistically. Most importantly, they connect.

“Not being there and being part of it yet; I’ve already seen the love,” Bushell-Beatty said. “To see the respect, that support is really good."

“In college, you have to get used to the people around you, but when you get a chance to talk to these guys, I know they’re real people. To have a close bond with people going into it, it’ll change the entire experience.”

That experience will have to wait as both are well on their way to leading the Paladins to another state title.

Peppers has two interceptions and seven pass deflections after four games, and Bushell-Beatty has been the piston that drives a Paramus Catholic team averaging 388.8 yards per game.