|Michigan signee Jabrill Peppers
It’s that time of year again, where I pick out the best and least best of the recruiting class and we can argue about it for the next four or five years. Here’s a look back at my choices over the last five years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). And on with the show:
Best Overall Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
Peppers is the 247 Composite #3 player in the country and for good reason. Michigan’s lone 5-star in the class, he won four state championships in his four years of high school football. He has the ability to play four positions (RB, WR, CB, S) in college, although he was recruited as a corner; Michigan will also probably use him in the return game. Peppers has the size, speed, and competitive attitude to be an All-American and a high draft pick in a few years.
Best Offensive Recruit: WR Drake Harris
I think this wide receiver class is loaded with Harris, Maurice Ways, and Freddy Canteen. In my opinion, these three could turn out to be almost as good as the trio of Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, and Steve Breaston playing together in the mid-2000’s. Harris has the best coordination, speed, and athleticism of the group, so as long as he stays healthy, I think he’ll be the top guy on this side of the ball.
Best Defensive Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: CB Jabrill Peppers
Peppers will instantly be one of the four best athletes in the secondary, so it’s a question of where and how soon he should play. Whether he plays corner, safety, or slot corner, he should be on the field as soon as he arrives on campus. I do want to pump the breaks on him being an instant starter at corner because technique is so important, but he could play over the slot if the coaches want him there. He might also be able to challenge Dennis Norfleet for kick return duties, and both of Michigan’s punt returners (Drew Dileo, Jeremy Gallon) graduated, so that job will be an open competition, too.
Fastest Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
This is like a broken record, so I’ll also mention that Drake Harris can leave some people in the dust if he recovers from his hamstring issues.
Strongest Recruit: DT Brady Pallante
Pallante benches 370 lbs. and squats 580 lbs., but his best quality is probably the leverage he’s able to use on the defensive line. Fellow defensive tackle Bryan Mone is significantly larger, but Pallante plays like a guy who’s 30 lbs. heavier.
Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: WR Maurice Ways
This is a really tough choice between Pallante and Ways, but both are pretty modest 3-stars in the 247 Composite rankings. I’m going with Ways because I think he will be the more acclaimed player of the two. He reminds me of Michigan’s 6’3″, 215 lb. receivers of yesteryear. If Michigan has a good quarterback situation down the road, I think Ways could be a 1,000-yard receiver.
Most Overrated Recruit: DT Bryan Mone
Perhaps more so than in other recent years, I think most of these guys are ranked just about right, with Ways and Pallante being the exceptions. I was extremely high on Mone early in his recruitment, and his junior film was very exciting. However, he gained a lot of weight before his senior year, didn’t put up great stats, and then didn’t stand out at the Under Armour All-American Game. I think Mone is probably ranked fairly accurately by the recruiting sites (#111 in the 247 Composite), but Michigan fans expecting instant domination are probably in for a bit of a disappointment.
Most Likely to Redshirt: OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Bushell-Beatty is a developmental prospect, and his performance at the Under Armour All-American Game solidified that position for me. He’s not a great natural athlete, and he was out of shape in early January. He needs to redistribute some weight, get stronger, work on his footwork, etc. Provided that Michigan’s line can stay healthy (an iffy proposition considering redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson is missing the entire spring), Bushell-Beatty will probably be planted firmly on the sideline this season.
Personal Favorite Recruit: WR Maurice Ways
This is a tough choice, too. There are several guys that I could pick, and the obvious choice for most people is probably Peppers. I also like Mone (his family story is inspiring), WR Freddy Canteen (a somewhat under-the-radar route running specialist), and Pallante (the classic underdog). But I was high on Ways from the first time I saw his film, a lot of people disagreed with me, and he seems to have a good attitude when it comes to improving, blocking, etc.