Jabrill Peppers gives Michigan plenty of options

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Could Jabrill Peppers exclusively play offense?

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t rule out narrowing the three-way player’s job description when asked during the Big Ten conference call on Tuesday.

“Yes, it’s realistic to think that,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “He’s such a good player. I can think of five different positions he’d be really good at in football. Could someone be the Willie Mays of football? Could somebody be the five-tool player, the five-position player? Maybe it will end up being Jabrill Peppers.

“Maybe we’ll find his absolute best position as you go along, but it’s interesting to think about and consider the possibilities. You’ve seen him this year, he’s played corner he’s played nickel, he’s played safety, he’s been a running back, he’s been a quarterback, he’s been a slot receiver, a wide receiver, he’s been a punt return and a kick returner, (nine) positions right there.”

Peppers had three pass breakups, five carries for 19 yards, three tackles and two punt returns at Penn State last Saturday. Who knows how Peppers will be used when Michigan plays Ohio State on Saturday, and that’s exactly Harbaugh’s objective — keep OSU coach Urban Meyer and his staff guessing.

“You like to keep all possibilities, all options open,” Harbaugh said. “You especially like your opponent to consider all the options and possibilities as it relates to all your players and how they might be used in the game.”

During his weekly news conference on Monday, Harbaugh praised Peppers’ ability as a running back.

“What’s your question, is he a good running back?” Harbaugh asked a reporter. “Yeah, yeah, I think so. He’s a darn good running back. Year Two may get a little crazy. May be one of the things we look at.”

Last week, Peppers was named a finalist for the Hornung Award given to the most versatile player in major college football. According to the release from Michigan, Peppers had played 809 snaps entering the Penn State game, with 635 on defense, 150 on special teams and 24 on offense.

His primary role is at safety, but Penn State had only 54 offensive plays, so that, essentially, offered Peppers a breather. He participated in 95 plays at Minnesota on Oct. 31.

Well, Year Two certainly looks like it will be interesting for Peppers.