Michigan's Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman Trophy finalist. Can he stop the Big Ten's Heisman drought from reaching a decade?
We'll find out when Peppers travels to New York for the Heisman presentation, where he'll join fellow finalists Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, DeShaun Watson and Dede Westbrook.
Peppers has already taken home plenty of hardware this season, named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. He's also a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award.
Peppers is a true do-it-all threat, playing in all three phases of the game. He's the third-leading tackler on Michigan's nation-best defense with 72 total stops. He also has 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Peppers also racked up 751 all-purpose yards: 310 via the punt return, 260 via the kick return, 167 rushing, 11 on an interception return and three receiving yards.
If he wins, Peppers would become the first Big Ten player to win college football's most prestigious award since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. He'd become the third Wolverine to win, joining Charles Woodson (1997), Desmond Howard (1991) and Tom Harmon (1940). If Peppers doesn't win, the Big Ten's Heisman drought will stretch to 10 years.
This season, the Big Ten doesn't need a Heisman victory to cement its status as the nation's best conference. It's done that already with three teams in the top six and four in the top eight of the final College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State, ranked third, will compete for a national championship for the second time in three seasons.
But certainly hardware helps the perception of a league. Of the nine who have won since Smith, five hailed from SEC schools, two from the Big 12 and one apiece from the ACC and Pac-12.
Two seasons ago, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon finished second, the best finish for a Big Ten player since Smith's win.
Twelve players from Big Ten teams have finished in the top 10 in voting since Smith's win:
|2015||Ezekiel Elliott||Ohio State||eighth|
|2015||Connor Cook||Michigan State||ninth|
|2014||J.T. Barrett||Ohio State||fifth|
|2013||Braxton Miller||Ohio State||ninth|
|2012||Braxton Miller||Ohio State||fifth|
|2008||Javon Ringer||Michigan State||10th|