As the 2015 season approaches, the new Michigan coaching staff has several questions to answer, including who will be the first starting quarterback of the Harbaugh-era? While that is biggest question, unless one of the signal callers emerge as a superstar, the offense won’t go very far without an game changing playmaker (or two). And though most are waiting for that player to be recruited, the roster already features one of the most explosive athletes in the country in RS Freshmen Jabrill Peppers.
Peppers is not only the most explosive athlete on the roster but also the most well-known player. As the #2 overall recruit in the 2014 class, he cemented himself as the best player in New Jersey high school football history after leading two different schools to back-to-back state titles. These accomplishments brought out some gaudy expectations, including the main one that every fan, reporter and analyst has said multiple times: “he’s the next Charles Woodson”.
While that’s obviously too high of a pedestal for any freshmen, the comparison itself is pretty good (IMO).
Jabrill Peppers’ High School offensive stats (sophomore to senior year)[table “15” not found /]
Peppers was a game changer in all three facets of the game in high school, similar to how Woodson was in the Maize and Blue. But who would have known about the Heisman Trophy winner’s abilities outside of the practice field if former head coach Lloyd Carr never gave him the opportunity?
Like that 1997 team, the 2015 Wolverines are a group that isn’t getting much hype (outside of the new staff) and could desperately use that spark on offense that Woodson gave to Team 118. And Peppers has clearly put his best foot forward to show he’s that guy.
During spring practices, Peppers was consistently seen as the top player on the roster by on-lookers and, according to MLive’s Nick Baumgardner, Harbaugh just may agree:
He wants to keep getting better and better,” says Harbaugh, who called Peppers’ spring session an “A+” effort. “You start to fall in love with guys like that.”
It’s not only his effort that stood out to the staff this spring, but also his versatility on both sides of the ball. Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin spoke with the Detroit Free Press’ Mark Snyder about his first impressions of the Jersey star and the possibility of him being loaned to the offense:
Loan him to the offense?” Durkin said, responding to the possibility. “Whatever’s best for the team, we will do.”
If anyone’s asking me, the best thing for this team would be to slide Jabrill over to offense a couple times per game and let him do what he does best. And if I know Jim Harbaugh (we follow each other on Twitter so we’re basically best friends), his “win at all costs” mentality will end up feeling the same way.
So, whether it’s at running back, wide receiver, or wildcat QB, I believe it’s just a matter of time before we will see Peppers get his chance to truly become the next great two/three-way player for the Wolverines in 2015.
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