The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 159 BY MICHAEL SPATH T here is a friendly fight inside Schembechler Hall that has raged since National Signing Day in February and probably won't end until the Wolverines report for fall camp Aug. 3. Both sides of the ball have lobbied for the opportunity to coach incoming freshman phenom Jabrill Peppers, with the offense likely having to wait until the five-star's sophomore season, much like Charles Woodson did not appear as a runner or receiver until his second year. Inside the defensive meetings, the debate centers on where Peppers would be of best use to the Maize and Blue and where he could pick up the skills necessary to impact in his rookie campaign. Cornerback is out, more so because U-M is loaded at the position than because Peppers — a natural corner — couldn't compete for playing time. Safety and nickel back are under consideration, and while the potential of a 6-1, 210-pound Peppers lining up over a slot close to the line of scrimmage in a position where he could blitz off the edge is appealing, the need at safety may require that Peppers be given an opportunity to win a starting job. At one safety position, Michigan is set; junior Jarrod Wilson was an eight-game starter a year ago, and he has appeared in 22 games defensively. He has the coaches' complete trust to perform up to their standards. "He's played a lot of football," safeties coach Curt Mallory stated. "He joined us mid-year as an early enrollee, so he's been through three spring practices. That part of it has really helped him. He's played in some big games, even as a true freshman, so experience- wise, comfort-wise, knowing what to do — we've see him grow each day into someone we have a lot of confidence in. "We were able to meet 30 minutes a week this spring, and you could see how confident he was in the system and his role. He just seems so much older. Even though he's only started eight games, he's played in almost every game defensively since he's been here." At the second safety spot, however, Michigan tried four different players in the spring — redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark, sopho- mores Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill, and early-enrolled fresh- man Brandon Watson. Hill finished the five-week stretch practicing with the first-team defense, but he must have a consistently strong preseason camp to convince his coaches he's ready. "You have to have a guy back there that you feel comfortable with, whether it's Jarrod Wilson or Jordan Kovacs, and maybe it's Jabrill Need & OppOrtuNity Michigan Has A Range Of Options To Fill Starting Spot At Safety DB Senior cornerback Raymon Taylor (No. 6) has started 23 games over the past two seasons, recording 10 passes broken up and six interceptions, and he was U-M's leading tackler with 86 stops in 2013. PHOTO BY TIM NELSON 159-165.DBs.indd 159 6/19/14 1:33 PM

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