ANN ARBOR, Mich. — They can’t all stick around forever. Or at least for an entire four seasons. Some of college football’s top talent inevitably will leave early for the next level.
Jabrill Peppers announced Tuesday that he will forgo a fourth season at Michigan to enter April’s NFL draft, a move that didn’t come as a surprise to many, as the linebacker is projected to be a first-round pick. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Monday, and it doesn’t appear that Michigan will have any more early departures for the NFL.
Peppers joins a small group of players who chose to forgo their final seasons at Michigan for the NFL. Some went on to have fruitful careers — including some who are at the start of or still in their playing career — while others didn’t pan out at the professional level.
Here are some of Michigan’s notable early departures for the NFL since 2001, by draft year:
Willie Henry, DL
Fourth round, No. 132, Baltimore Ravens
Henry had 6 tackles in four exhibition games in 2016 but did not see game action for the Ravens as a rookie.
Devin Funchess, WR
Second round, No. 41, Carolina Panthers
As a rookie in 2015, Funchess caught 31 passes for 473 yards and 5 touchdowns as part of a Panthers team that reached the Super Bowl, losing 24-10 to the Denver Broncos. Funchess had 23 catches for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns this year.
Donovan Warren, CB
Warren was a standout at Michigan and was projected to be drafted in the first three rounds, but a poor combine showing, combined with re-aggravating an injury to a surgically repaired ankle, caused his draft stock to evaporate.
The Jets signed Warren as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2010, but he was primarily on the practice squad for four NFL teams. Warren now works in real estate development in Southern California.
Carson Butler, TE
Butler was charged in an alleged assault in 2007 at Michigan and was suspended from the football program before the charges were dropped that July. In three seasons at Michigan, Butler had 41 catches for 429 yards and 3 touchdowns but was only in the NFL at the practice-squad level.
Mario Manningham, WR
Third round, No. 95, New York Giants
Manningham entered the NFL regarded as a risky pick, after reportedly failing drug tests at Michigan and lying to NFL team officials about it. According to the New York Daily News in 2008, Manningham wrote a letter of apology to all 32 NFL teams prior to the draft.
Manningham went on to a productive six seasons in the NFL, first with the Giants and then with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was coached by current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in 2012 and 2013. Manningham had 211 catches for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns and helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in February 2012.
Adrian Arrington, WR
Seventh round, No. 237, New Orleans Saints
Arrington made it to the NFL but his professional career was injury-riddled. Arrington played in five games in two seasons and left the Saints in 2012 after being released with an injury settlement.
Alan Branch, DT
Second round, No. 33, Arizona Cardinals
Branch is in his 10th NFL season and has played in 16 games this season for the New England Patriots. He has 267 tackles and 10.5 career sacks. The Patriots host the Houston Texans at 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
LaMarr Woodley, LB/DE
Second round, No. 46, Pittsburgh Steelers
The unanimous All-American at Michigan went on to have a successful NFL career with the Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals. Woodley helped the Steelers win the 2009 Super Bowl and finished his nine NFL seasons with 58 sacks, 314 tackles and 17 passes defended.
Woodley is now a co-host of the NFL Network’s “Tackle My Ride,” in which NFL fans have their car redesigned to reflect their favorite team.
Ernest Shazor, DB
A Jim Thorpe Award finalist in 2004 at Michigan as the nation’s top college defensive back, Shazor told the Detroit News that he left Michigan for the “financial opportunity” in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals signed Shazor as an undrafted free agent but Shazor played in only two NFL games.
Alex Ofili, DT
Ofili made only one start at Michigan and had 12 tackles in three seasons, and an NFL career never materialized. Ofili is now in school administration in Birmingham, Mich.
Shantee Orr, DT
The Green Bay Packers signed Orr as an undrafted free agent, and he played in 65 games in six NFL seasons. Orr also played for Jacksonville, Houston and Cleveland.
David Terrell, WR
First round, No. 8, Chicago Bears
Terrell was one of Michigan’s decorated wide receivers. He was the first player in Michigan history to have multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1,038 yards in 1999, 1,130 yards in 2000) and was named an All-American in 200. He also played six games his freshman and sophomore years at defensive back
Terrell played in the NFL from 2001-2005 and had 128 catches for 1,602 yards and 9 touchdowns in 54 games. Terrell’s son, David Jr., is now a pretty good football player in the Chicago area.