Three months after being named the Paul Hornung Award winner, former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers on Tuesday finally got to hold the statue, receiving the award at a ceremony in downtown Louisville, Ky.
“It’s a great honor. Well deserved. You talk about versatility at a very high level, that’s Jabrill Peppers,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto of Peppers. “We played him at safety, corner, linebacker and nickel. Kick returner, punt returner, running back, quarterback, slot receiver, wide receiver, gunner on the punt team. He can play everywhere. He’s an amazing talent.”
He was also given a Louisville Slugger — as was Harbaugh — as part of the ceremony.
The award, which was introduced in 2010, is awarded by the Louisville Sports Commission and honors the nation’s most versatile player. The other finalists were Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Southern Cal’s Adoree’ Jackson, and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook.
“It’s a very proud moment. My second proud moment. It’s great to see Owen (Marecic, who won the first Paul Hornung Award in 2010 at Stanford, where Harbaugh was his coach) here at the event,” Harbaugh said. “Someone who grew up a Packers fan as I did, and a big fan of Paul Hornung. It’s a big honor.”
Peppers, who played nearly every defensive position, various positions on offense and made a huge impact on special teams, was a finalist for the award in 2015.
As for his future, Harbaugh envisions him in the defensive backfield at the next level.
“He’s a heck of a good safety,” he said. “He’s got the ability to cover, the ability to rush, the ability to blitz, to take guys and put them down on the ground. A tremendous tackler. Probably the best tackler in college football.”
Here’s the highlight video that was played at the ceremony.
Previous winners: Owen Marecic, Stanford (2010); Brandon Boykin, Georgia (2011): Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012); Odell Beckham Jr., LSU (2013); Shaq Thompson, Washington (2014); Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (2015).