The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 75

34 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017 I t took until Jan. 10 for him to an- nounce, but redshirt sophomore Ja- brill Peppers finally made it official that he would forego his last two seasons of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Peppers broke the news on Twitter, but gave quotes to Sports Illustrated at the same time. "It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Peppers said. "I'm choosing between cementing my leg- acy as a college player and starting my pro legacy. "It's something you dream of when you were a kid. I was torn between the two." Peppers, winner of the Big Ten De- fensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year and Return Man of the Year Awards, played 15 different positions for the Wolverines, but was primarily an outside linebacker. He projects as a safety at the next level. Peppers reportedly broke the news to head coach Jim Harbaugh after visit- ing with his family and making up his mind the weekend of Jan. 6-8. "He thanked me and told me it was a pleasure to coach me," Peppers said. "I told him it was a pleasure to play for him. He molded me for the next level — that's how he operates. He runs his program like an NFL team. He's done more than enough to prepare me for this moment. "[It's hard] not just because I love this place and the guys around me and the fans and the school … I feel like I was cheated out of the college experience getting hurt my freshman year. I really only played two years for the univer- sity that I love." Peppers also thanked former Michi- gan head coach Brady Hoke, who re- cruited him to Michigan and coached him for a year, his former high school coach and current Michigan assistant Chris Partridge, his teammates, profes- sors and the Michigan fan base. "Now that it's here, it's surreal," he said. "I'm not going to take the oppor- tunity for granted. It's time to work harder than I ever did and show folks what I'm made of." There was better news for the Wol- verines in the trenches. Junior center Mason Cole and redshirt junior defen- sive lineman Maurice Hurst both an- nounced they'd return for one more season, bolstering U-M's lines. Both had said they'd been leaning toward returning but made their inten- tions clear before the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl, a 33-32 loss to Florida State. "It's a better decision, another year to get stronger, to get better," Cole said, noting he'd heard back from the NFL advisory committee about his draft stock. "I kind of already made up my mind before I heard back from them. This was the decision my family and I made with Coach Harbaugh and Coach [Tim] Drevno, and this was the best decision for me." Cole started every game at center for the Wolverines after moving from left tackle. Hurst was arguably U-M's best at his position this year, at least at times, but was passed over for All-Big Ten honors. He'll get another shot at it af- ter deciding to come back to Michigan next year. "I decided I'm going to come back for my fifth year next year, start my master's degree and play another year of football," he said Dec. 21. "Just after thinking it through with my family, talking to Coach Harbaugh and Coach [Greg] Mattison, I figured out that's what I wanted to do, come back and improve on some things." This wasn't a huge surprise. Fifth- year senior Chris Wormley had been saying for several weeks prior he ex- pected Hurst to return. "That's my roommate. He probably knows me better than most people," Hurst said with a laugh. "I think Chris kind of went through a similar thing as me, kind of thought through every- thing for himself. "We're pretty similar people, so he probably assumed that would be the best decision for me going forward for school and stuff like that." The 6-2, 282-pounder asked for advice from the NFL Draft advisory board, but had yet to hear back before making his decision. He notched 34 stops (19 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 12 games this year. He was consistently in opponents' backfields and extremely disruptive with his quick first step. The All-Big Ten snub does motivate him, he admitted. "I think it makes sense for things like that to motivate you," he said. "It was upsetting not to receive any honorable mention honors. In the same light, it was really exciting to see 11 guys on our defense get that award. It speaks volumes to the kind of defense we had this year, the respect earned through the conference. I think it's great. I've never heard of that being done before." Though never expected to leave, red-   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Jabrill Peppers Opts For NFL Draft Peppers said the decision to bypass his final two years of eligibility at U-M was "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do." PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - February 2017