It's easiest for
Paramus Catholic (N.J.)
star Jabrill Peppers
to just tell people what they want to hear when they ask about where he plans to commit to.
Now it's time for those people to hear the real truth - and his raps.
The college destination for Peppers has been narrowed to a list of schools including LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers and Stanford. He will finally announce his decision to America at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.
"I pretty much have one, but I'm just going over everything and still have a couple of visits left," said Peppers, ranked the No. 8 recruit in the Class of 2014 by 247Sports.com
Not a day goes by where he is not asked what college he will commit to. Many journalists have asked
him where he's going to commit before he announces it on live television
on Sunday (at least 30, he said), and
that number will likely quadruple by the time he goes on air.
He already has a way to satisfy those nosy reporters, but he won't have to do it much longer.
"I ask them their favorite team
and tell them that's where I'm going," Peppers said. "So everyone stays happy."
His coach says the line of questioning has been growing by the day.
"More than you can imagine," said Chris Partridge. "I tell them I'll let
Jabrill tell you at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 26."See the Jabrill Peppers announcement primer to find out more about the schools he is considering
All that attention is unavoidable for Peppers, and he's finding ways to acclimate.
"I mean, it's kind of a double-edged sword. I'm the
type of guy that likes to be low-key," said Peppers. "But that seems
almost impossible now — so I guess I'm still adjusting to the spotlight."
The spotlight is even brighter now that Peppers released "Don't Take It Personal,"
a music video via YouTube earlier this week that has received more than 10,000 views. The song features his cousin, Vernell Bryant, who goes by the stage name Knew Era. It is the first single off Peppers' album that will be released next month.
"He is an artist and an athlete now and has shown others who doubted him a little taste of what's to come in both fields," said Knew Era.
The concept of Peppers' music video was based off 90's hip hop group Naughty by Nature's videos, a group from his hometown of East Orange. Peppers' father Terry taught Vin Rock, one of the three members of the group, how to break dance.
Rock was honored that Peppers paid homage to the group and was impressed.
"Their song has a classic throwback 90s vibe," Rock said. "You can tell they were influenced by us. And it had substance. You can tell that they're really saying something."
Peppers uses music as an outlet when he's not being a son, football player and a high school student.
"My music is my escape. That's partially the reason why I'm so infatuated with it," Peppers said.
His mom, Ivory Bryant, is admittedly an old school R&B, gospel and country music enthusiast and says that she's not a fan of rap music but supports her son in his endeavors.
"I like him as a student better," said Bryant. "As long as he keeps his music clean and positive and he puts school first, football second and music third, I'm all for it."
So is his coach.
"Yeah I can bump to his stuff," said Partridge. "He is always coming in my office telling me to listen to this and listen to that. I always roll my eyes and listen but most of the time I say to myself 'Wow that's pretty good.'"
It's good. And it's clean, which some could consider a rarity in today's hip-hop world.
"You know I keep it real," said Peppers. "It's about being smart," he
said. "You can get gritty, but to an extent; you don't want to put your
future in jeopardy because you wanted to say or do something to increase
He may be a good or great musician. But there's no way he's better at music than football.
"That's the easiest question I have ever answered," said Partridge. "Jabrill is a multidimensional five-tier football player, he is so special it's a no brainer. Jabrill is a physical and mental competitor—music will not satisfy both needs. He is a great competitor, a tremendous leader, an unselfish player that always puts the team first."
Peppers sees his music as a tangible career along with football.
"I do see a tangible career because I love both," said Peppers. "I see myself doing it the same way I do now. Especially in college, where I'll have more time on my hands. So instead of partying, I'll be in the studio, doing what I love.
"But football will forever have my heart and they'll just coexist with one another."
Peppers has a list of things that he looks for in a college that ensures an overall fit. According to him, they need a balance of things.
"The scheme, academics, coaches who care and a family-like [atmosphere]," he said. "Exposure and a team who has national championship aspirations."
See the MaxPreps Top 10 Jabrill Peppers highlights video
During his visits, Peppers respected programs that were upfront and didn't go too far with lauding him.
"That's actually where some teams lost me," he said. "I hate that stuff, hate it. Because it's not going to be like that when the recruit gets there. Why advertise it — just keep it real.
"I value that I'm vastly independent and wise beyond my years enough so to be fully confident in my decision," said Peppers. "Also, I value that my coach had done everything in his power to find out the ins and outs of the university I have chosen."
His mother sees his announcement as one milestone in her son's evolving story and believes that it is a great accomplishment. She also sees it as a story that is still unfolding.
"I think that when you grow up in an urban area, there are stereotypes that are attached," said Bryant. "He's defying all odds. He's more than a one dimensional kid. If you work hard and stay focused, you can achieve your dream."