He set a new state record, and then, days later, he was informed he didn’t set the record after all. It’s understandable that Jabrill Peppers would be frustrated with New Jersey athletic officials.
As reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, Peppers blazed to a state record victory in the 200-meter sprint at the Big North United Division Championships, crossing the finish line at 20.79 seconds. That time was good enough to surpass the previous record of 20.93 dating back to 2001 by a good deal (in sprinting terms), which set the track and field and recruiting worlds alight.
If you want to see Peppers' speed in action on the track, you can see it right here.
After all, Peppers is a top football recruit for Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High first and a sprinter second, so any achievements he reaches on the track are often filtered through the lens of what they mean to his football career. In this case, they meant that he could be seen as an athletic speed merchant like NFL brethren in the backfield DeAngelo Hall and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, among others. That’s clearly what programs like LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State are thinking as they beat down his door trying to recruit him to their campuses.
In fact, because of Peppers’ famed speed, there was no particular reason to doubt the authenticity of his time, which led to media reports far and wide about his latest achievement. Yet, as it turns out, there was reason to doubt his 20.79 speed, because he didn’t run a 20.79 at all; he ran a 21.37.
How could such a mistake happen? According to Lou Fraulo, who runs Fraulo Race Timing, the service which provided all official timing for the Big North United Championships, a shadow was cast in front of Peppers’ body on the image taken to certify the finish times, and that shadow made Peppers appear to be farther forward than he actually was.
That illusion led those reviewing the photo to credit Peppers with his original record time of 20.79, even if that mark was an illusory one.
“It took quite a while looking at it to figure out what was wrong,” Lou Fraulo told the Star-Ledger. “Would have been a great time, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.”
And all because of a shadow. If anything, the brief setback may provide even more motivation for Peppers, who is fast on his way -- literally and figuratively -- toward major collegiate sporting success, both on the field and the track.