30 NJ Players to Watch: Jabrill Peppers
MSG Varsity counts down the top 30 New Jersey athletes to watch, in no particular order, for the upcoming school year. Today, we highlight No. 20, Paramus Catholic football star Jabrill Peppers.
It was U.S. Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry who famously reported, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours," after defeating the British in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.
Almost 200 years later, Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge is able to make a similar statement, though his observation would be centered on just one person-- Jabrill Peppers, who transferred to PC from powerhouse Don Bosco Prep last February.
But anyone who knows even just a little about this multi-talented junior understands the incredible impact his decision could have on the entire Paladins' program.
"We're trying to build this thing from the ground up, and Jabrill is going to play a huge role with that," Partridge said. "He's a phenomenal player; we know that from playing against him four times in the past two years. He's everything we thought."
Peppers was a factor in the secondary as a freshman when Don Bosco posted two lopsided shutouts against Paramus Catholic in 2010. Last year, he against dominated in the secondary and also rushed for over 300 yards and scored six touchdowns to help the Ironmen win two games over PC by a combined score of 87-3.
Peppers was hardly picking on just his future teammates. The 6-0, 190-pound package of speed, power and durability rushed for almost 1,000 yards, scored 24 TDs and was brilliant all season at cornerback to help Don Bosco (12-0) win the national championship and run its winning streak to 35 games. Peppers was a First Team All-Metro selection by MSG Varsity for the second straight year, an All-America pick by most outlets and Sophomore Player of the Year by the U.S. Air Force. He is already a national-level recruit with numerous offers.
He'll have some sizable adjustments to make with his new club, but seems to be excited and completely open-minded about the challenges--which includes playing with a much younger and less established group of blockers and defensive mates than he was accustomed to at DBP.
Peppers, for one thing, has made the move from cornerback to strong safety. Partridge also says he'll utilize his blazing junior in a variety of spots in the Paladins' spread offense.
"We're moving him around the field. He's roaming, he's blitzing, he's playing to his strengths," Partridge said. "It also suits his mental strength. He's a straight A student and very knowledgeable about the game. I can't say enough about him."
Paramus Catholic went 6-5 last season with a number of players who return in 2012, including junior QB Steve Shanley, junior wideout Tyrone Washington, senior DE/LB Khilyni Kennedy and junior tackle Juwan Buschell.
Mike Kinney covers football for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS