LS Taybor Pepper, Saline HS - 6-foot-4, 190 pounds
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (NR), 24/7 (NR)
Other notable offers: None
MSU added another player late to its 2012 class when long snapper Taybor Pepper was offered and committed Saturday. Allen Trieu of Scout.com first reported the news. Pepper had previously accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Michigan, but jumped at the scholarship offer from MSU. From Scout:
"It was an easy decision, for the fact that it was a scholarship. They contacted me last week saying they had a possible need for a long snapper, possibly on a scholarship, so I went down there last week and talked to them and they talked to me and still weren't sure offer me yet. I woke up this morning, it was in the mail and Coach Dantonio wanted me to call him and I did and they offered me."
Pepper is the second late addition to the 2012 class in less than two weeks. MSU signed offensive tackle Jack Conklin on April 5. Conklin had preferred walk-on offers from U-M and Western Michigan, but was going to go to Fork Union Military Academy before MSU's scholarship offer.
Last fall, Mark Dantonio said freshman long snapper Matt Giampapa would go on scholarship in the spring. I have not seen anything official on that yet, but having two scholarship long snappers would seem a little strange, especially when they're one year apart. However, Giampapa was suspended for the Outback Bowl and MSU had long-snapping issues in the game (along with some great holding from Brad Sonntag). I was told Giampapa is still on the team. We know how important special teams is to Dantonio.
Pepper, whose father was an offensive lineman at Illinois, definitely needs to add more weight. But looking at his frame, Pepper should have the ability to add those pounds easily. There's not much you can tell from long-snapping tape, other than he looked pretty good with his snaps. He seemed to get downfield really quickly after the snap. Although that might be a product of the return formation, Pepper does seem to have some speed. (Sidenote: The holder gets blasted on a play about 0:55 into that video, which IS a penalty. I've never seen that before. You should check it out).
Scout says Pepper is one of the top long snapper recruits in the country. For what it's worth, this long-snapping camp really liked him.
Kid uses his length to create some amazing speed. I actually timed at .59 for a fifteen yard snap! His ball just gets up and rockets itself back to the punter. It is almost shocking when you see it live. Huge upside on Taybor since he is still growing and has so much more room to grow. Excellent work ethic and solid personality make him an easy pick for a college.
Pepper's family wanted to make sure there were no ill-feelings from U-M fans for the departure. Trieu posted this on U-M's Scout message board:
As soon as MSU expressed interest in a potential scholarship, they contacted Coach Ferrigno, Taylor's position coach at Michigan, since Taylor had accepted a preferred walk-on spot already and told him about it and he said he was OK with it and they proceeded from there. They moved forward, the offer came, and they waited until Michigan's spring game was over today to talk to Michigan again, which is why the news didn't break until after the completion of today's spring game.
Can't blame a kid for taking the free education. Sounds like his family handled it the right way. (I guess this another example of the end of the Big Ten gentleman's agreement, am I right?). Congrats to Pepper on earning a scholarship.
Much like with Conklin, MSU seems to have added another kid with a lot of upside, and as I said then, you can never have too many offensive linemen.