Top-ranked CB picks Michigan
NEW YORK -- Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) wasn't sure if he would be able to wear the helmet. It would be the final part of the cornerback's commitment to Michigan, the end of the recruitment for the No. 2 player in the Class of 2014.
He'd wear the winged helmet for the first time in public and that would be it.
The problem was, he wasn't sure if he would be able to get it off afterward to complete the interview on ESPNU. Eventually, Peppers figured it out. He'd put the helmet on at the end.
"I'm an innovator," Peppers said jokingly. "I'm going to do it."
This is how the Wolverines picked up their highest-rated recruit since 2006: with a rap written on a phone held up by a close family friend inside a small New York City studio.
"He's poetic," his mom, Ivory Bryant, said as they figured out how to get the helmet worked into the announcement.
Peppers made his final decision to attend Michigan over Penn State on Friday, but it was a choice lingering for a while. He told the other Wolverine commitments two weeks ago he was planning on joining them -- even though at the time he was only 80 percent sure.
"Everyone had Michigan as the leader," Peppers said. "They were the leader, but it wasn't a lock."
And the Michael Ferns-led Project 135 T-shirt was already in the mail by the time Peppers announced. Peppers grew up a Michigan fan. Deep down, he always wanted to go there, which is why when he visited the school, in some ways, he hoped he didn't like it. At one point, Stanford even led Michigan in the race to sign him, Peppers said.
"Michigan was my childhood favorite, my childhood dream team," Peppers said, leaning back on a black couch while wearing a Michigan hoodie following his announcement at Media3 studios in Manhattan. "So I tried not to be biased. I really liked Stanford. Just based on the football side and the basis of life after football. But when I took that visit to Ann Arbor, I was hoping for it almost to not blow my mind. I knew if it did blow my mind, it was going to be a no-brainer, completely biased. So they completely blew me away."
From there, it was a likely decision for Peppers to join his high school teammate, offensive lineman Juwann Bushell-Beatty, at Michigan.
And now that his recruitment is finished, Peppers has a new job.
He's planning on joining Ferns and quarterback commit Wilton Speight as a top recruiter for the class. Not surprisingly, he has some targets picked out.
"A great defensive line makes a great DB and a great defensive secondary. Those guys are definitely on my radar. I'm coming strong. Emphasis on strong."
The strength, though, starts with the 6-foot-1, 205-pound corner. Peppers, Bryant, and his Paramus Catholic coach, Chris Partridge, went into a private conference room to call Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
Then, Peppers left the 13th-floor studios for the lobby and pictures with his entire entourage, including his mother, his high school coach, three Pop Warner coaches and other Paramus Catholic officials.
He wasn't fazed by much Sunday. Not by announcing his decision on television. Not by his decision being delayed -- and then announced prematurely -- because of an NCAA tournament softball game going long. And not by the group of people that showed up, those who had been with him for a while, to see him make what he called one of the two biggest decisions of his life, other than picking a future wife.
"I'm low-key. I don't really do camps, but the Under Armour All-American game, a lot of guys were committed to that, so I figured if I'm not going to do camps, why not play in the All-American game and show people what I can do," Peppers said. "I don't really buy into the whole, 'He's the next Charles Woodson' and all that stuff.
"That's nice to be compared to him, but I'm more of a guy who wants to make my own legacy, start my own thing."
Sunday was perhaps just the beginning.