Fall camp often serves as a bit of an eye-opener for some of the nation’s top recruits signed during the spring. The days of being the best are quickly a thing of the past once they arrive on campus for fall camp and have to work to earn respect from teammates and coaches all over again. Such is the case in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Jabrill Peppers.
Head coach Brady Hoke has already spent time suggesting he will have to wait and see if Peppers can match the hype he brings to the Wolverines as one of the top players in the nation in the recent recruiting class. Hoke’s defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, is taking the lead of the head coach when asked about Peppers this summer.
“He’s talented, let’s face it. … But with him choosing to come to Michigan, now he has to prove that he’s a Michigan football player,” Mattison said in a story by MLive.com. “There’s no pampering. (He’s) just a guy in our defense.”
It is expected Peppers will play a key role in Michigan’s defense this season. Peppers, a defensive back by trade, brings plenty of speed to the field and he has the ability to play any position in the secondary, a reason he has a shot to be a true impact freshman in 2014. Mattison has decided to play him at nickel back this fall camp. The Wolverines ranked seventh in the Big Ten against the pass with 17 interceptions, but the Michigan defense gave up some big plays through the air more than enough times to cost them some games.
The good news for Michigan is Peppers appears to be handling his transition from top high school recruit to a freshman looking to find his role.
“Obviously with his success in high school, he’ll probably get attention, but he’s been very mature about it,” Mattison said. “When you’re (at) Michigan, you’re just one (player) on the team. You’re responsible to do what the team is asking you and that’s what he’s done.”
Down at LSU, the nation’s top-ranked running back in the Class of 2014 is seeing similar treatment. Leonard Fournette is not being given any guarantees despite previously being thought to be the starting running back in week one for LSU.
South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.
Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday. No reason was given for the decision.
McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp. He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.
“I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.
As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M. He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well. A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.
Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.
Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.
A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.
Even as Baylor looks to put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror, the football team simply can’t get away from the dark cloud hanging over the program.
Interim head coach Jim Grobe announced Monday that Chance Waz has been suspended for the Bears’ first two games of the upcoming season. The only reason given was unspecified disciplinary issues.
The suspension will cost the defensive back games against Northwestern State and SMU. Waz will be eligible to return for the Sept. 16 game against Rice.
After playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2014, Waz started 11 of the 13 games in which he played last season. He was again projected as a starting safety entering summer camp.
Speaking of BU starters, Ishmael Zamora is still listed as a first-team wide receiver on the final preseason depth chart released by the Bears Monday. Zamora was caught on video beating his dog with a belt and kicking it, and was ultimately charged with misdemeanor animal abuse.
Grobe said he’s still awaiting the university’s decision on what if any punishment Zamora may be facing as a result of the incident.
The West Virginia football team has had a rough go of it the last month or so.
In late July, Larry Jefferson, expected to be a part of WVU’s defensive line rotation, was arrested on drug charges and removed from the roster. This in mid-August, two-year starting safety Dravon Askew-Henry sustained a torn ACL that will knock him out for the season; shortly thereafter, starting left guard Adam Pankey was arrested on a drunk-driving charge and ultimately suspended for at least the opener against Missouri.
As it turns out, Pankey won’t be alone on the suspension sidelines as WVMetroNews.com is reporting that linebacker Xavier Preston will be suspended for the opener as well. No reason has been given for the punitive measure, and the football program has yet to confirm it.
The third-year sophomore would be eligible to return for the Sept. 10 Youngstown State game.
Preston played in 13 games last season. He has been described as the heir apparent to Nick Kwiatkowski at outside linebacker for the Mountaineers.