The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 M ichigan's strong season — and the personnel that made it happen — didn't go unnoticed across the nation. The Wolverines made a major mark when awards season rolled around. Heisman Trophy finalist Jabrill Pep- pers, the redshirt sophomore linebacker who played no fewer than 15 positions for Jim Harbaugh's crew, proved the most decorated Wolverine nationally. But he was by no means the Lone Ranger when it came to hardware. Peppers demonstrated all season long he's the most versatile performer in college football. The 2016 Paul Hor- nung Award put the official seal on that distinction. Michigan's first Hornung Award winner, Peppers beat out finalists Christian McCaffrey (Stanford), Ado- ree' Jackson (USC) and Dede West- brook (Oklahoma). "Jabrill loves competition and has a relentless desire to be great," Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh commented. "We are honored that Jabrill has been selected as the Paul Hornung Award winner, an achievement fitting of his versatility on the football field. Jabrill is explosive, aggressive, intelligent and plays the game with great enthusiasm. "He has always wanted what is best for the team and has been willing to accept any role that is asked of him. We are very proud of this achievement." Peppers himself said: "It means a lot to me to win this award. You definitely want to do as much as possible, and you want to do it as well as you can. I think there are a lot of guys who could have won this award, so it's just a tre- mendous honor to be the winner and to represent the Paul Hornung Award. "I'm just going to keep to trying to get better, keep working on my faults and do whatever I have to do to help my team." A finalist for the award last season, Peppers left no doubt this year. Going into the Orange Bowl, Peppers was tied for second among the Wol- verines with a career-best 72 tackles. Peppers led the team in tackles for loss, averaging 1.3 per game, which ranks third in the Big Ten and No. 25 in the NCAA. Peppers recorded 570 return yards, including 21 punt returns for 310 yards and one touchdown. His average of 14.8 yards per punt return was fourth in the nation through the regular sea- son. On offense, he carried the football 27 times for 167 yards and three touch- downs, along with recording two re- ceptions. Meanwhile, Jake Butt entered his se- nior season tabbed as the nation's best tight end by many. The John Mackey Award certified that standing Dec. 7. Presented by the Friends of John Mackey, the award honors the most outstanding tight end in college foot- ball. It recognizes NFL Hall of Famer and the first president of the NFLPA, John Mackey. "It's a great honor first and foremost, especially for this team," Butt noted. "One thing Coach [Jim] Harbaugh says, 'A rising tide raises all ships.' So it's great to win this award. "I want to thank the guys in this group; this is our award, really it's not a one-man award. I really thank every- one on this team, this coaching staff, my position coach Jay Harbaugh, my family and everyone that's helped me achieve this great award. I'm really ap- preciative of that." Butt enters the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl with 43 receptions for 518 yards (12.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Twenty-nine of his 43 receptions re- sulted in first downs. He has a catch in 34 of his last 38 games and is the team's second-leading receiver. He earned All-America honors last season and got that distinction again, along with Peppers and senior corner- back Jourdan Lewis, from the Walter Camp organization again this year. Butt noted his place as Michigan's first Mackey Award winner will always be significant to him. "That means everything again," Butt said. "It's something that seems like a long shot when you get into school, but through consistent sacrifice and hard work, doing it each and every day and on the off days coming in here and get- ting extra work in and bringing team- mates along throughout four years, it's an honor to have some of those records and win some awards." Michigan senior Garrett Moores had some fun with it when he was named National Holder of the Year. Moores put together a video in which he sol- emnly accepted the very real award in a nearly empty Michigan team meeting room, complete with a janitor inter- rupting by sweeping up. BIZARRE YEAR FOR STANDINGS FINISH IN BIG TEN CONFERENCE Wagering sorts could have easily retired had they placed the proper bet following Michigan's resounding 49-10 win over Penn State Sept. 24.   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Wolverines Clean Up On National Awards 2016 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent Result/Time (ET) Sept. 3 Hawai'i W, 63-3 Sept. 10 Central Florida W, 51-14 Sept. 17 Colorado W, 45-28 Sep. 24 Penn State W, 49-10 Oct. 1 Wisconsin W, 14-7 Oct. 8 at Rutgers W, 78-0 Oct. 22 Illinois W, 41-8 Oct. 29 at Michigan State W, 32-23 Nov. 5 Maryland W, 59-3 Nov. 12 at Iowa L, 13-14 Nov. 19 Indiana W, 20-10 Nov. 25 at Ohio State L, 27-30 (2OT) Capital One Orange Bowl Dec 30 Florida State* 8:00 P.M. * Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida Jabrill Peppers became the fifth player in school history to be named a Heisman final- ist since 1982; only four programs (Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida) have had more than U-M during that span. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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