Grade issues hurt him early on but make no mistake, Pacifica (Calif.) offensive lineman Mike Tepper is one of the most talented linemen in the West region.
At 6-5, 290 pounds, Tepper has great size, is athletic, gets off the ball very quickly and has great technique. He's also as mean as they come and is one of those players who keeps coming after you, often times after the whistle. Of course you would always rather have to tell a lineman to calm down rather than to fire up.
We saw Tepper early in the season against Pomona (Calif.) and standout lineman Eugene Germany and Tepper was the most dominant player on the field. He camped at both UCLA and USC over the summer but grade concerns hindered his recruitment.
"Both schools told me I was one of the best lineman they had seen but they weren't sure I would qualify," Tepper said. "I got off to a bad start my freshman and sophomore years and just didn't put in the effort in the classroom. Then once I saw I had the talent to earn a scholarship, I realized I needed to pick it up.
"I'm taking a bunch of classes over again right now so that should really help my GPA. I scored a 920 on the SAT and I have no doubt I'll be able to qualify. I'm getting all B's in my classes right now and I should be right around a 2.5 (GPA) if I continue to finish up strong these last two semesters."
His improvement in the classroom has paid off on the recruiting front as four schools have offered him in the last month.
"I have offers from Cal, Oregon, UNLV and Wyoming," Tepper said. "I was just hoping to get one but now I have multiple options and I'm so excited about it. I'm tripping to Cal this weekend (Dec. 5), UNLV (Dec. 12), Oregon (Jan. 9) and UCLA (Jan. 16). UCLA has recently come back in the picture but they haven't offered me yet.
"They want to wait and see my grades at the semester before doing that. Right now, Oregon, UNLV and Cal are my favorites. They have been with me the longest and are showing the most interest. I don't plan to announce until Signing Day or ever after that. I know this is a big decision so I want to wait it out as long as possible to make sure I do the right thing."
Tepper will be playing in the CaliFlorida Bowl January 2.