The Wolverine

March 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Brady Hoke would like to let Ja- brill Peppers come to Ann Arbor, settle in, get used to academics, and maybe take a snap or two before he's anointed the next Charles Woodson. Good luck with that. Not only has the former Heisman winner come up in far too many media renditions of the Peppers-to- Michigan story, the player himself hasn't shied from invoking the name. In fact, before Peppers shut down most interviews in the weeks leading up to his signing with Michigan, he raised eyebrows with it. "When people say 'Michigan,' I want them to say Jabrill Peppers, then Charles Woodson," he offered to The Michigan Daily, U-M's student news- paper. "I'm trying to be better than the best … I want to be the best player to ever wear that maize and blue." Well, they say aim high. In Peppers' case, his own high hopes come with some backing. The No. 1 prep defensive back in the na- tion in the estimation of, and the No. 3 performer overall, can't be missed at an athletic 6-1, 210 pounds. He combines size with speed to burn, holding the New Jersey state record in the 200-meter dash, in a clocking of 20.79 his junior year. All of that, and more, according to Para- mus (N.J.) Catholic head coach Chris Partridge, will allow Peppers to re- main special on the football field. "He's going to want to win a na- tional championship there," Par- tridge said. "He's going to want to be the best DB in the country. That's going to motivate the people around him to be the best, too." As for the Woodson chatter, Par- tridge understands, but with a coach's own sense of caution. "I can't answer for Jabrill, but I don't always agree with all that stuff," he said. "Obviously, it's hum- bling to be compared with someone like that, one of the best players of all time. Jabrill has to be humbled by that and be honored by that, but at the same time, he's got to be his own person. "He's going to go there and he's going to do his thing. He's going to give everything he has. Hopefully, at the end of his career, that's when they're comparing him to Charles Woodson. That's when it's really go- ing to be special. Hopefully, they can say, 'Wow, these are the two best DBs Michigan has ever had in their his- tory.' That's when a fair comparison can be made." In the meantime, the head coach noted, Peppers can be counted with the best he's seen on a prep football field. The four-time NJSIAA Group 4 state champion — two years at pow- erhouse Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., two years with Partridge at Paramus — has the tools to produce big numbers. He carried the football for more than 3,000 yards and 43 touchdowns JABRILL PEPPERS CAUSES RIPPLES WHEREVER HE RUNS

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