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‘Sonic boom!’ Peppers’ speed floors Harbaugh on return

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jabrill Peppers picks up a fumbled ball and returns it for a defensive PAT at the end of the game against Michigan State.

Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he heard a “sonic boom” and expected parachutes to fly out of the back of hot rod Jabrill Peppers, who sprinted 87 yards for a late-game defensive PAT after picking up Michigan State’s busted two-point conversion attempt.

Harbaugh was discussing a speed comparison between senior receiver Jehu Chesson and freshman receiver Eddie McDoom when he raised his own question during his weekly news conference on Monday. The Wolverines are ranked No. 2 and preparing for Maryland on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ESPN).

“Peppers. How’s Peppers not the fastest guy?” Harbaugh said. “I thought I heard a sonic boom on that two-point conversion. I’ve seen it at practice so many times —whoa, that is so fast. Someday he’ll go to the (NFL) combine and run a 40 time and it will be so interesting to see what he runs. That’s going to be in the 4.3s somewhere.

“When he picked up that loose option pitch and was running down I thought I heard a sonic boom! I was a little disappointed parachutes didn’t come out. It just looked like what was going to happen. I thought when he got to the goal line, I thought some parachutes were going to come out. Impressive. Impressive. Mercy!”

Peppers scored a first-quarter touchdown in the win against the Spartans. According to ESPN research, Peppers, who after the game said he had dealt with some cramping during the contest, ran 42 plays at linebacker, 12 at cornerback, nine at nickel, six at wildcat quarterback, one at safety, one at H-back and one at receiver, in addition to kick return and punt return duties.

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While he did a backflip at the end of the game, his sprint turned most heads. He crossed into the end zone like a sprinter breaking the proverbial tape.

“At first I wasn’t trying to run fast, but then I heard somebody behind me,” Peppers said after the game. “I’m (like), ‘OK, stop trying to be pretty, just get the ball in the end zone and put it out of reach.’ I slipped at the end and it messed it all up.”

Peppers skidded at the back of the end zone and wound up on his back.