Jabrill Peppers is expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
But is there a chance the do-it-all star could return to Michigan?
Peppers sat out of Friday night’s thrilling Orange Bowl after suffering an injury this week in practice. The Wolverines lost a thriller to Florida State, and after the game, with tears running down his face, Peppers explained that he’s going to take as much time as possible to decide whether he’ll forego his remaining NCAA eligibility and enter the draft.
“I still don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Peppers said, his comments posted by the Detroit Free Press.
“Do they have a deadline on that? I don’t know. I’ll probably take it all the way up until the deadline. I’ve got some decisions to make. I still feel like I didn’t do what I set out to do as an individual and as a team. We didn’t make the Playoff, we didn’t make the Rose Bowl. And then to come here and lose the Orange Bowl, it just sucks because we worked too hard for it.”
Peppers’ stock could very well never be higher. After winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year awards, he finished in the top five in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Peppers shone in every facet of the game, making a habit of getting in the backfield as a linebacker, racking up plenty of return yards and scoring as a ball-carrier on offense.
Even after Michigan made a wild comeback to take a late lead only to lose it a minute later on Friday night, the biggest topic of conversation was Peppers’ absence.
“I couldn’t even run,” he told reporters after the game. “I told myself if I was at least 80 percent I was going to go. I couldn’t even run, and at that point you’re just going to hurt the team, you being out there and you can’t even run. They’re counting on you to play a certain way.”
Certainly being forced out of a marquee bowl game due to injury is a sour way to end a collegiate career. So too is the way Michigan finished the season, with losses in three of its final four games after starting 9-0.
Like Peppers said, he has some decisions to make.