'Mind-boggling' Jabrill Peppers named Michigan MVP

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Livonia — Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers has been voted by his teammates the Wolverines’ Most Valuable Player.

Peppers was the Hornung Award winner given to the nation’s most versatile player, a Heisman Trophy finalist, the LOTT Impact winner and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year.

But Peppers was not on hand at the annual Michigan football bust Tuesday night. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Peppers, who was making the awards rounds the past week, needed to make up a test he missed last week. Harbaugh said he was told if Peppers didn’t take it, he might not be able to play in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.

“I told him to take the test,” Harbaugh told the sold-out crowd at the Laurel Manor.

Harbaugh raved about Peppers’ skill.

“I’ve been watching him for two years, estimate somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe 280 to 300 practices that I’ve watched him,” Harbaugh said, “and I’m amazed every time I watch him practice the game of football, the level of energy he brings, the athleticism he brings, the emotion that he brings, the smart football player that he is. You all know what he’s done for our football team, the many positions he plays, but the things we’ve asked him to do defensively, the things we’ve asked him to do offensively and the things we’ve asked him to do special teams, it’s mind-boggling he does it all and does it so very well at the very highest level.

“I consider him the ultimate team player. There’s many a practices that are ignited by the way Jabrill Peppers practices and in a game ignited and turn in our favor the way Jabrill Peppers plays. He’s honest. I love that about him. He will pat a teammate on the back if they deserve to be patted on the back and he will tell them pick it up if they need to pick it up, and he always does it with example and encouraging word. Can’t say enough about him. He will be a tremendous pro football player, and I also believe he’s the best tackler in all of college football. One of the best tacklers I’ve ever seen.”

In a break from tradition, Harbaugh had the players’ parents address the crowd to speak about their sons.


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“I, like a lot of you really appreciate the tradition,” Harbaugh said. “None greater than the stadium itself, none greater than the tunnel. Those two things have stood the test of time. And I appreciate this banquet. I appreciate the bust. This is a great banquet, recognize the seniors and the great tradition.”

He is the most versatile player on the Wolverines, who will face Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Peppers played 933 snaps and 15 positions this season for sixth-ranked Michigan. He had 726 plays on defense this season, 154 on special teams and 53 on offense.

He is tied for second on the team with a career-best 72 tackles this season, including a team-leading 16 tackles for loss. He had four sacks, one interception and a forced fumble. Peppers is fourth nationally with 14.8 yards per punt return and scored a touchdown. He also has 10 kickoff returns for 260 yards. On offense, Peppers has 167 yards on 27 carries and had three touchdowns. He also had two catches during the regular season.

Injured left tackle Grant Newsome, whose season ended after suffering a knee injury in the Wisconsin game, earned two awards — the Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award and the Ufer Bequest, given to the player that demonstrates enthusiasm and love for Michigan.

Ben Gedeon earned the Roger Zatkoff Award given to the team’s best linebacker.

Defensive linemen Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley were co-recipients of the Richard Katcher Award given to the Wolverines’ outstanding defensive lineman or outside linebacker.

Right tackle Erik Magnuson consistently was among the Wolverines’ top offensive lineman game to game. He earned the Hugh Rader Memorial Award given to the team’s top offensive lineman.


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There were two new awards presented Tuesday night. Quarterback Wilton Speight was named the team’s Most Improved Player. Anthony Dalimonte was named the Scout Team Player of the Year.

Morris moving on?

Harbaugh praised backup quarterback Shane Morris, who may play for another program his final year as a graduate transfer, often ran the scout team this season.

“He may come back next year, he may go to another school and start,” Harbaugh said of Morris, who graduated from Warren De La Salle and committed to UM as a high school sophomore.

Morris’s father, Bruce, spoke to his son afterward.

“Your family is very proud of your growth over the last four years,” Bruce Morris said. “Very proud of your love for your teammates and this university. And just a few things you need to remember — be proud of who you are, where you came from and where you’re going.”

Morris said after the bust he will make his decision after the bowl game.

Potential fifth-year seniors

Harbaugh said he’d like to see Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi return for a fifth season, along with defensive lineman Maurice Hurst.

“People should text and Twitter him and encourage (Hurst) to come back,” Harbaugh said.

Morris, Dave Dawson, Wyatt Shallman, Patrick Kugler and Jack Wangler all have the potential to be fifth-year seniors.

Harbaugh reiterated that he hopes injured cornerback Jeremy Clark and running back Drake Johnson can earn sixth seasons after petitioning the NCAA.

Giving him some props

Delano Hill will be a “very fine NFL player. Mark my words,” Harbaugh said during the bust. He said the NFL is “starved” for safeties and that Hill offers the size and ability that will translate to that level.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh takes a poll to decide how to present the awards to the players before the 96th Annual Michigan Football Bust Tuesday at Laurel Manor in Livonia.


Bo Schembechler MVP: Jabrill Peppers

Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award: Grant Newsome

Robert P. Ufer Bequest: Grant Newsome

Roger Zatkoff Award: Ben Gedeon

Richard Katcher Award: Ryan Glasgow, Chris Wormley (co-recipients)

Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award: Erik Magnuson

Most Improved Player: Wilton Speight

Scout Team Player of the Year: Anthony Dalimonte
Top 5 vote-getters for MVP:

1. Jabrill Peppers

2. Amara Darboh

3. Wilton Speight

4. De'Veon Smith

5. Jourdan Lewis
Top 5 for Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award:

1. Grant Newsome

2. Matt Mitchell

3. Ian Bunting

4. Greg Froelich

5. Jack Wangler

Top 5 for Scout Team Player of the Year:

1. Anthony Dalimonte

2. Joe Hewlett

3. Joe Beneducci

4. Ben Pliska

5. Reuben Jones