By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
We all know Jabrill Peppers is not your average player. The redshirt sophomore does pretty much everything – and he does it all very well.
After spending time on both sides of the ball last season Peppers has accomplished a lot in just 16 games as a Wolverine. He’s made big tackles, found the quarterback in the backfield for a sack numerous times, and he’s even scored a touchdown on offense.
But there’s something the electric player hasn’t done until this past Saturday, something a lot of people knew would happen sooner or later.
Early in the fourth quarter as Michigan was up by 10 and looking to put away the Buffaloes, Peppers fielded a punt at his own 46-yard line. He used his speed to burst up the middle of the field passing defenders, then used his quick footwork to cut past the last Buffalo and found his way to the end zone for his first punt return touchdown of his collegiate career.
It took Peppers 24 punt returns to finally score a touchdown – after a bunch of close encounters – but when he finally scored he fell to the ground and laid there to soak it in. After the game he had a tough time describing the feeling he got.
“It was indescribable I think I just laid there and was like ‘finally man’ the guys did a great job of giving me a crease, they trust me enough to hit what I see and make something happen and I think that’s what I did,” Peppers said.
Peppers wasn’t the only one to think “finally” as he crossed the goal line, Wolverines fans for the past year have been waiting for him to take one to the house after the countless close calls he had in most games.
He even admitted he was tired of having so many close ones and not an actual touchdown to go with it.
“When you get a line drive and great blocking if you don’t score then they have to put someone else back there you know so that’s just how I felt,” Peppers said. “The hole was wide open they leave it upon me to make a couple guys miss and I feel as so I did that, I started cramping at about the five but I was like ‘there’s no way I’m not getting in this time’ I was tired of being an almost kind of guy so it definitely felt good to finally punch one in.”
It wasn’t just the punt return that had people thinking of how good Peppers is on Saturday. He was a presence on defense that gave the Buffaloes fits.
Peppers finished the day with nine tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack. His move to linebacker has put him closer to the line scrimmage and allows him to be more effective in stopping the run.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said that they noticed Colorado had been punting the ball to the same spot on the few punts before the touchdown return and the coaching staff made adjustments to counter it.
But Harbaugh gave most credit to his punt returner who he said was “the best guy out there.”
“I feel great with the ball in his hands, he is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. He made the difference, a lot of players played really great football today but Jabrill was by far the best guy out there in all phases,” Harbaugh said.
Peppers is one of the best players on the Wolverines team, and probably in the country. He is an explosive player that is dangerous anytime he touches the ball.
Harbaugh also talked about how important his sophomore do-it-all player was to the team’s win, which can probably be said after most wins.
“Jabrill Peppers proved he was the best player in today’s game, we don’t win that game without Jabrill Peppers.”