Line up Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers just about anywhere on the field and he’ll create magic.
The star defender/returner/everything is seen as a strong Heisman contender despite seeing limited time on offense, thanks primarily to an ability to alter games in a way that is perhaps unmatched. How strong of a Heisman contender is Peppers, exactly? Well, Fox Sports’ Dieter Kurtenbach ranks him No. 2 on his list of the nation’s 20 best players so far this season. Only Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is ranked higher.
Here’s Kurtenbach on Peppers:
Without a doubt the most exciting defensive player in the nation — we’re all in on a “linebacker” who also returns punts. He plays offense, too. But he’s also third in the nation in tackles for loss. The kid can do it all, and it’s fun to watch it
Through five games, Peppers has 35 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 246 punt return yards (1 TD), 95 kick return yards and 24 rushing yards. Yup, he can do it all.
While seeing Peppers ranked so highly may be a surprise to some, it is likely no group is more surprised at the rankings than Ohio State supporters — whose starting quarterback is ranked just 15th by Kurtenbach.
Kurtenbach himself even writes J.T. Barrett’s ranking seems a bit low, but perhaps Barrett’s early exits (because of blowouts) is keeping him down on the list? Regardless, with 17 total TDs and as the starting quarterback on the No. 2 team in the nation, Barrett shouldn’t be this low for long.
Still, Barrett isn’t even the highest-ranked Buckeyes player on this list. That honor belongs to H-back Curtis Samuel, whose 300-plus rushing yards / 300-plus receiving yards double (a rather historic feat) has him ranked No. 9.