If Jabrill Peppers is actually going to be the second coming of Charles Woodson, the Michigan coaching staff is going to have to let him.
Peppers, the No. 3 recruit in the country in the Class of 2014, will have a mountain of hype following everywhere he goes in Ann Arbor when he starts his collegiate career at Michigan this season. He’s a cornerback by trade, but he did just about everything in high school, returning punts and kickoffs and playing offense.
Big Ten football is different than New Jersey high school football, but there’s no doubt Brady Hoke and his staff think Peppers can bring his multi-faceted game to the next level. On National Signing Day back in February, Hoke said Peppers could return kicks and could play offense but that getting him acclimated to cornerback was the most important thing.
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Well, Hoke might be realizing what a special talent he has and how it might help his football team.
“Jabril is a guy that obviously we think is a very good football player. Will he get the ball in his hands, not just play defense? Maybe. We’ll see how things go,” Hoke said in an interview with Campus Insiders’ Bonnie Bernstein. “We’ll see. Believe me, I’ve got a new offensive coordinator who wants him to play tailback. We’ll see. We’ll go through it pretty well with him.”
Woodson made some appearances on offense during the 1996 and 1997 seasons with the Wolverines. Primarily a cornerback and return man, he caught 21 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns and rushed nine times for 167 yards and two touchdowns in those two seasons combined.
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Could Peppers get the opportunity to do the same thing at Michigan? It sounds like Hoke hasn’t finalized the plans for the incoming freshman yet — and it sounds like new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier wants to be a part of that discussion — but it also sounds like he might have a trick or two up his sleeve. Regardless, it is a certainty that Peppers will be playing on the defensive side of the ball. What kind of role will he have there, coach?
“Right now, we’re going to start him out as a nickel back,” Hoke said. “You’re playing so many sub-nickel, dime defenses, and that’s where we’re going to kind of give him an opportunity to get his feet wet. We’ll probably have him return some punts. We’ll probably have him do some kickoff returns and see how capable he is. We think awfully capable, but just to get his feet wet early in the year.”
Hoke seems set on Peppers being a big part of the defense and a featured part of the return game. That’s duties on two of three phases, and we’re only in June. It looks like the Wolverines have big plans for their top recruit, maybe some they don’t even know about yet.