ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jabrill Peppers is officially one of the top five players in college football.
Peppers, along with quarterbacks Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and WR Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma), were announced as finalists Monday for the Heisman Trophy, given annually to the top college football player. The winner will be announced during a televised awards show at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.
Peppers, a redshirt sophomore, was arguably the most versatile player in college football this past season. Michigan’s coaching staff moved Peppers from safety to linebacker prior to the season to help a unit that had lost three of its top players in 2015 to graduation. Playing in a hybrid pass-rushing role, Peppers had 72 tackles (47 solo), including 16 tackles for a loss of 65 yards. He also had 4 sacks, 1 interception, 8 quarterback hurries and 1 forced fumble.
On special teams, Peppers averaged 26 yards on kickoff returns and 14.8 yards on punt returns.
On offense, Peppers primarily played in the Wildcat formation in which he gained 181 yards on 27 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. He also had 2 receptions for 3 yards as a receiver.
Pepper is eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft because he is three years out of high school, but he has not yet declared for the draft.
Peppers was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, its Return Specialist of the Year and the conference’s Linebacker of the Year.
Peppers is a finalist for several college Player of the Year awards, including the Walter Camp Award (Player of the Year, as voted by coaches), the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player), the Lott IMPACT Award (Defensive Player of the Year), the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player in college football), the Maxwell Player of the Year Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award (college Defensive Player of the Year).
Peppers is also a finalist for the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football, given annually to the Big Ten’s top player.
Peppers is Michigan’s first Heisman Trophy finalist since Charles Woodson in 1997. Michigan has had three Heisman Trophy winners: Woodson (1997), Desmond Howard (1991) and Tom Harmon (1940).
No. 6 Michigan (10-2) faces No. 10 Florida State (9-3) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 in Miami.
“We know we’ll have our hands full, no doubt,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Sunday of Peppers. “He is physical enough to play like a linebacker but can also play safety or corner, and return kicks and punts. He’s a very unique player.”
He's the most versatile player in college football.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 24, 2016