Chicago — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has never wavered when it comes to the athletic ability of junior three-way Jabrill Peppers.
Harbaugh, during his remarks on Monday at the first day of the Big Ten media days, was asked about what is possible for Peppers to accomplish this fall and didn’t limit what he could potentially achieve.
Peppers was among 10 players named to the Big Ten’s football preseason honors that were announced Monday morning.
“Anything is accomplishable for Jabrill Peppers in the game of football,” Harbaugh said. “Let me start by saying this, I think football players, professional football players are the greatest athletes in the world and Jabrill is that kind of athlete. He’s that kind of athlete that has the greatest in the world type of athleticism.
“He can play just about anywhere on a football field and be effective. Put him in a corner. Put him in a safety. Put him in a linebacker. Ultimately, probably nickel is his best position. He can be a returner of the punts, returner of the kickoffs. He could be a gunner. He could be a hold-up guy.”
Harbaugh mentioned Peppers’ role on offense. Peppers added that dimension last year midway through the season beginning with the Michigan State game.
“Offensively, probably right now could probably be our slot receiver and would give (running back) De’Veon (Smith) and all of our running backs a run for their money to be the best running back on the team. could be a wildcat quarterback. Could be an outside receiver. Can run all the reverses and fly sweeps.”
Bottom line, Peppers, in Harbaugh’s mind, is special. Harbaugh was voted the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year last season.
“I think you get the picture — he’s a tremendous athlete,” Harbaugh said. “The other thing about Jabrill is he’s highly, highly motivated and very serious about being good. He’s seen a lot in his life from an early age. He’s felt people try to put him down. He’s felt people try to put hate on him from an early age. Some about even where he went to high school. He’s taken a lot of racial and other type of directive hate toward him. He’s never let that get him down or put him down. He’s always used that as fuel and motivation.
“He’s a very fiery guy. He is highly motivated and with the type of athleticism that he has, I truly believe he keeps working and keeps having the same intensity and focus that he’s had and the seriousness about being a very good football player and student and all those things. He could explode into a giant of a man.”
Harbaugh also spoke about the three players who are representing Michigan at media days — Jourdan Lewis, Amara Darboh and Jake Butt.
He said Butt is the most “gung-ho” players he’s ever been around. Harbaugh said Lewis is respected by his teammates “because he doesn’t act like the big man on campus.” And he called Darboh the team’s best receiver right now, saying he emerged in the spring while Jehu Chesson was sidelined with a leg injury. He said Darboh is a “gentleman” and a “class act.”