Ann Arbor -- So much was riding on freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers and what he could add to the Michigan defense this fall.
But Peppers has been largely absent because of injuries, and while he is "closer" in terms of recovery and returning to the field, it remains unclear whether he will play again this season.
He will not dress for the game against Indiana on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, coach Brady Hoke said earlier in the week. Michigan is 3-5 overall and has four games remaining.
"He's frustrated, wants to play football," Hoke said Wednesday at his weekly mid-week news conference. "He's highly-competitive, he's doing really well in school. He's a competitor."
Hoke has never specifically described Peppers' injuries. He suffered an apparent ankle injury in the first half of the season opener and then missed the game at Notre Dame. He played against Miami (Ohio) and Utah but was injured again and has not played since.
"The good thing is our relationship has been built on trust," Hoke said. "It's always been a great relationship. When I see him being a little frustrated or not as happy, whatever you want to call it, I'm gonna approach him on it. He's a competitive guy, pretty well thought of coming out of high school, and all of a sudden you have two things that kind of set you back. It's hard, it's difficult."
Hoke said he always talks to the player and his family about the possibility of a redshirt.
"I want them to know we'll make a group decision on it, and what's best for Michigan first and what's best for that young man," he said.
As far as making that decision, Hoke said that while he announced Monday that senior linebacker Desmond Morgan will take a redshirt and return next season as a fifth-year senior because of an arm injury that has held him out nearly the entire season, there is not a specific deadline to make a decision regarding Peppers.
"I don't know if there is a point of no return," Hoke said. "The one thing you look at, how good a guy is, will he be here five years anyway, would he be here four years, would he be here three years?"
Hoke keeps approach
Even at 3-5, Hoke said he has not changed what he says or how he approaches committed recruits or those the staff is recruiting.
This week, Michigan lost another commitment, four-star cornerback Garrett Taylor.
"I don't think I've said anything that I haven't said in previous years," Hoke said. "We've got a great place here. We've got the best university in the country when you look at what it does for you after football. I think the same way from a football standpoint. Most of the kids, they're going to be committed to what this place has to offer."