Take that, Ohio.
In a televised press conference (insert face palm here) late Sunday afternoon, New Jersey cornerback Jabrill Peppers announced, as has long been expected, he has verbally committed to play his collegiate football at the University of Michigan. The 2014 prospect opted for the Wolverines over a group of finalists that included LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, home-state Rutgers and Stanford.
Peppers, the 10th verbal in UM’s 2014 recruiting efforts, has been a lifelong UM fan, and the recruiting process was simply a matter of the teenager following his heart.
“Go Blue, baby!” Peppers said during the announcement. “I’m going to Michigan. …
“It was always my dream to play for Michigan. They were my favorite team since I was a young kid.”
(Writer’s note: it’s at this point in the program where we’re compelled to remind you that verbal commitments are non-binding and nothing is official until pen is put to paper on National Signing Day early next February. Thanks in advance for your cooperation in this matter.)
Both Rivals.com and ESPN have the 6-1, 210-pound defensive back rated as the No. 2 player in the country at any position. 247Sports.com rates him as the No. 8 player in the Class of 2014, while Scout.com has penciled him in at No. 11 on their big board.
If Peppers’ verbal commitment turns into a signing, and if Peppers maintains his current ranking, he would be the highest-rated recruit UM has ever signed since Rivals‘ founding back in 2002. The previous high? Ryan Mallett as the No. 4 player in the Class of 2007.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah