ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jabrill Peppers clearly grades on a curve.
A steep curve, at that.
Given his gaudy numbers and dynamic play so far this season, the Michigan linebacker was downright critical of himself.
“C-minus,” Peppers said Tuesday, when asked how he would grade his play and assess himself. “Definitely not where I want to be or where the team needs me to be. But, hey, that’s why you play this game. You have six more weeks to get better and better and show everybody what you can do.”
Go ahead and draw another academic parallel. Or make a midterm joke. After all, Monday and Tuesday make up Michigan’s designated fall study break. Peppers admits that he is, in fact, his own harshest critic. When it comes to improvement, Peppers follows a tenet from the philosophical playbook of defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“You guys can’t tell from watching the game, but when I get in the film room, I know when I mess up,” Peppers said. “And I try to solve all my mistakes with effort and aggression.
At linebacker this season, Peppers has 38 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss of 46 yards; 2.5 sacks and 6 quarterback hurries. Peppers has also stood out on special teams, with 14 punt returns for 249 yards and a touchdown.
Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis was surprised at Peppers’ self-assessment.
“If I’d give him a grade, I’d definitely give him an A,” Lewis said. “He definitely gives us a lot of positive plays. He’s definitely a game-changer. Definitely an A.”
If I walk into a lecture and see that Jabrill Peppers will be grading our exams, I'm sprinting out of there and dropping the class ASAP.
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) October 18, 2016
And, yes, Peppers acknowledged the Heisman Trophy hype that has been building around his play.
“All recognition is good recognition, but that’s an offensive award,” Peppers said. “I’m just trying to play the best ball that I can play and everything else is going to fall into place. I’ll take wins over a Heisman any day, but that’s just my opinion.”