My day began yesterday with an email from Mr. Brad, a very intriguing email. Brian Guiffra, a beat writer for The (Bergen) Record in NJ, covers Paramus Catholic HS and decided to contact Maize N Blue Nation seeking reaction RE: the hype around Jabrill Peppers before and after the recent video-game, sportscenter top 10 play circulated in the media. You all saw my own reaction to the insanity Tuesday. Now here's my inaugural feature in a newspaper article. MOM I MADE IT!!!
Paramus Catholic's Jabrill Peppers relishes his ESPN moment
THURSDAY AUGUST 29, 2013, 9:48 AM
BY BRIAN A. GIUFFRASTAFF WRITER
Let the hype machine roar into overdrive.
Jabrill Peppers, already a nationally known senior football player at Paramus Catholic, earned the No. 1 spot on the Top 10 plays for ESPN “SportsCenter” on Tuesday night with a breathtaking run from the Paladins’ scrimmage against Red Bank Catholic earlier that afternoon.
The highlight video, which shows Peppers spinning, cutting, stiff-arming and bull-rushing his way past nine defenders for a 30-yard touchdown, went viral on the internet Wednesday, earning featured placement on several prominent national websites and elevating Peppers, a Michigan commit, to a cult-hero figure within the football community.
“And the hype will just keep growing from here,” said recruiting analyst Daniel Winslow, who covers Michigan for Mazenbluenation.com. “Since the video came out I’ve had people already saying ‘I don’t care if he’s in high school. He’s going to win the Heisman.’ ”
That’s a major proclamation considering Peppers hasn’t played a down of college football yet. But it just goes to show how much his profile has expanded nationally over the last 48 hours.
On Twitter, Peppers’ play was one of the top trending topics on Wednesday with followers from Bergen County to Texas to California marveling at his ability.
On YouTube, the highlight video generated more than 280,000 views before noon and was over 450,000 views by 5 p.m.
On Yahoo, Peppers’ video was featured in the carousel on the main page and on Bleacher Report a story with the video was also on their front page.
Even Peppers was impressed with the recognition, tweeting “Top5 Most Memorable Moment in my life right now,” on Tuesday night with an attached video of his play at No. 1 on “SportsCenter”.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this huge of a deal,” Peppers said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I just thought it was a pretty cool play. But I’m blessed and honored for all the attention it’s getting.”
This isn’t the first time Peppers, the No. 2 rated recruit by ESPN for the class of 2014, has garnered national attention. He was named National Freshman of the Year by MaxPreps and announced his commitment to Michigan with a rap live on ESPNU last May.
That unique announcement also got him on Yahoo’s front page. But this was different.
“One of my goals was to make the Top 10 plays, not even No. 1,” Peppers said. “Those are the best plays in the entire world for that day and when I saw I was the top play on ‘SportsCenter’, that’s when I knew this was kind of a big deal.”
It’s not often that a play from a high school sporting event is selected as “SportsCenter” No. 1 play, though it has happened before. Producers for the show watch dozens of highlights from every sport around the world, both pro and amateur, and select the Top 10 based on which are most impressive.
On Tuesday night, Peppers’ run won out.
“Simply put, it was determined that Jabrill’s run was the best play, regardless of high school, pro, college, or otherwise,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Mike Shiffman said in an email.
The play was so impressive it had Michigan fans comparing Peppers to former Heisman trophy winner and Super Bowl champion Charles Woodson. He was a two-way star at Michigan from 1995-97, playing cornerback and occasionally wide receiver and punt returner.
Peppers has similar two-way talent – he rushed for 1,552 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and recorded 73 tackles and three interceptions on defense. He’s listed by most recruiting services as a cornerback prospect at the next level. But this run may have changed a few minds.
“Before the highlight play, I don’t think a lot of people saw him play,” Winslow said. “But now people are going crazy with the Charles Woodson comparisons because they want to see him play on offense.
“[Woodson] is one of the best Michigan players ever. If that doesn’t describe the hype around him now, I don’t know what does.”
And as Winslow said, it’s only going to grow from here.