Charles Tapper adapts to new recruiting status
Charles Tapper has spent the early part of this summer much like every other summer he can remember: playing basketball.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound forward has assumed his regular role as Nike Baltimore Elite’s resident rebounder / enforcer / garbage man. But this run on the circuit for the former City standout is a bit different than in years past. For Tapper, there are no hopes of landing a Division I basketball offer based on his AAU play. He already has plenty of college scholarships on the table thanks to football.
“I love the game of basketball,” Tapper said. “I know this is probably my last year of playing. But it’s fun being back.”
This last hurrah with basketball comes months after his first season of organized football. Tapper joined George Petrides’ Knights and quickly emerged as a physical, athletic presence on the defensive line, and a dynamic pass-catching threat at tight end and wide receiver.
“It wasn’t very easy, but I didn’t think I was going to adapt like I would,” he said.
Thanks to his junior season with City and a couple key performances with Next Level Nation in 7-on-7 tournaments, Tapper went from an unknown, inexperienced prospect to a nationally touted recruit in a matter of months.
Scout.com rates Tapper a four-star prospect and the No. 10 tight end nationally, while Rivals.com lists him as a three-star player and the No. 24 strongside defensive end in the country. The highest praise for Tapper comes from 24/7 Sports, which ranks him as a four-star prospect and the No. 112 player in the entire 2012 class.
Tapper credits basketball for his rapid rise to the top of the football recruiting charts.
“It’s beneficial to me because when I step on the football field, people underestimate the way I play the game,” he said. “They think I’m not a very technical player. They forget that I’m quick. In basketball, playing a big-man position, they think I’m slow and my footwork is bad. But when I step on the football field, it’s like I get to show my athleticism.”
Several colleges have taken note of his potential. Tapper said he has been offered by Oklahoma, Rutgers, Maryland, San Diego State, Penn State, West Virginia and Miami. He currently has three schools he considers favorites, starting with the Sooners.
“My first offer was Oklahoma. I thought I was dreaming,” Tapper said. “It’s a little different from home, [it’s] top 10 in college football, and [I like] the coaching staff. [Oklahoma assistant defensive coordinator] Bobby Wright is just a straight-up guy. He’ll be honest with you.”
The Mountaineers are also at the top of Tapper’s list. Tapper said the proximity to home – his mother could drive to a game in Morgantown and back to Baltimore that day – is a definite positive.
“[I took an] unofficial visit up there. It was beautiful,” he said. “Their stadium is beautiful. Fans come out to support them. We stayed for a basketball game. I got to talk to [former Dunbar running back] Tavon Austin... [and he] told me all about the campus.”
The Hurricanes are the final team on Tapper’s list of favorites. He likes the coaching staff and hopes to visit this fall.
“Miami, that’s just always been my childhood favorite,” Tapper said. “I haven’t visited there yet, but they say … they just treat their football players like celebrities there.”
Tapper, who’s not sure where he will attend school for his senior year, plans to spend the rest of the summer playing with Nike Baltimore Elite. After the Peach Jam next month, he’ll focus on football again, taking a couple unofficial visits, playing in some 7-on-7 tournaments, and just enjoying his new-found status as a Division I recruit.
“It’s just like a big [blessing] to see all these big-time colleges call my phone, and I actually get a chance to talk to the coach and visit their beautiful campuses.”
Baltimore Sun photo of Charles Tapper by Karl Merton Ferron / Nov. 6, 2010