Jabrill Peppers, in an interview last week during Michigan’s media day, was asked about playing in multiple phases of the game.
The redshirt freshman cornerback responded: “I actually haven’t heard anything about that.”
OK, Jabrill. Sure you haven’t.
The fact is that the talk since Peppers committed to Brady Hoke and Michigan ahead of the 2014 season has almost entirely centered around how many sides of the ball the No. 3-ranked player in the Class of 2014 could play on. He did it all in high school in New Jersey, playing defensive back and running back and return man and just about everything and doing it all extremely well.
Even before his freshman season began last year, Hoke teased potentially using Peppers in a few more ways than simply as a standard cornerback. Those plans were derailed when an injury meant Peppers played in only three games, earning a medical redshirt in the process and having to wait until 2015 to truly kick off what’s expected by many to be a promising collegiate career.
“I’m just taking it day by day. I was looking too far ahead last year. I took a lot of things for granted,” Peppers said in that same interview. “Some plays I didn’t run to the ball as I should, that play I got hurt. Now, whenever I’m out there I give it my all, whether it’s practice, whether we’re in the weight room, whether it’s meetings because you never know when it’s going to be taken away from you. So I make sure I do everything I possibly can to make sure I don’t put myself in the position to have it taken away from me again. Meaning that’s protecting myself at all times, full speed, max effort every play. What’s definitely bubbling inside of me is just a hunger to be out there with my brothers.”
Hoke’s gone now, and Jim Harbaugh is in as the new head coach in Ann Arbor. But the regime change hasn’t quieted any of the conversation about Peppers being used on defense, offense and special teams.
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Much of that has to do with his high school performance. Take a look at these numbers. In four seasons, he made 134 tackles, intercepted seven passes, and recorded two sacks on defense. Running the ball, he went for 3,059 yards and 43 touchdowns on 373 carries. On top of that, he caught 57 passes for 842 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Oh, and he broke the New Jersey state high school record in the 200-meter dash, running it in 20.79 seconds.
So, yeah, it’s a pretty safe bet that Harbaugh can find something for Peppers to do besides just defending passes.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Peppers said. “Whatever helps the team, whatever is best for the team, that’s what I’ll do to my best ability.”