The incessant hullabalooza over Jim Harbaugh overshadows everything else that’s a part of Michigan Wolverines football these days. Harbaugh is definitely a brand and he’s now done for khakis what Bear Bryant did for Houndstooth and Bill Belichick has done for hoodies.
Harbaugh has a ton of NFL talent on his current team; mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Leading the way is blue chip NFL prospect Jabrill Peppers. ESPN ranked him the #9 overall player in the nation this season.
Numerous NFL mock drafts have him going in the teens or twenties in the first round. Yes, the old adage “the next big thing” truly applies to Jabrill Peppers. The only question is “what position does he play?”
2015 saw Peppers moves from corner to strong safety, but then also get a lot of work on offense and special teams. In 2016, linebacker could be his primary position. The #2 overall prospect in his recruiting class, Peppers is extremely versatile and that versatility will no doubt keep his NFL draft stock high.
I asked Harbaugh about him at Media Day. Harbaugh described Jabril Peppers thusly:
“Can’t say enough good things about him, his intensity, his joy for playing the game really rubs off on everybody.”
Q. When you look at what Jabrill Peppers has done in his career at Michigan, what he’s poised to do and all his versatility, what makes you think he’s such a special athlete that he is and how high is the ceiling for Mr. Peppers?
COACH HARBAUGH: “Well, anything is accomplishable for Jabrill Peppers in the game of football. Again, they’ve got to be worked for. He is a — let me start by saying this: I think football players, professional football players are the greatest athletes in the world and Jabrill is that kind of athlete. He’s that kind of athlete that has the greatest in the world type of athleticism.”
“He can play just about anywhere on a football field and be effective. Put him in a corner, put him in a safety. Put him in a nickel. Put him in a linebacker. Ultimately probably nickel is his best position. He can be a returner of the punts, returner of the kickoffs. He could be a gunner. He could be a hold-up guy.”
“Offensively probably right now could probably be our slot receiver and would give De’Veon and all of our running backs a run for their money to be the best running back on the team. Could be a wildcat quarterback. Could be an outside receiver. Can run all the reverses and fly sweeps.”
“So I think you get the picture. He is a tremendous athlete. The other thing about Jabrill is he’s highly, highly motivated and very serious about being good. He’s seen a lot in his life from an early age. He’s felt people try to put him down. He’s felt people try to put hate on him from an early age. Some about even where he went to high school.”
“He took he’s taken a lot of racial and other type of directive hate toward him. He’s never let that get him down or put him down. He’s always used that as fuel and motivation.”
“So he’s a very fiery guy. He is highly motivated and with the type of athleticism that he has, I truly believe he keeps working and keeps having the same intensity and focus that he’s had and the seriousness about being a very good football player and student and all those things.”
“He could explode into I mean a giant of a man.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.