Marlin Jackson Talks Peppers, Secondary

Former U-M great Marlin Jackson talks Jabrill Peppers impact, the improved secondary and more.

Josh Newkirk: Being a guy that played both cornerback and safety, where do you think incoming freshman Jabrill Peppers will fit best when he finally arrives on campus?

Marlin Jackson: "He can play any position in the secondary. Obviously, the first thing that stands out is his athletic ability. When I watched his tape, you see the movement, you see the burst, you see the speed, the top-end speed, then you see the physicality, then you see the instincts on blitzes and making plays in the backfield and a willingness for contact. He accepts that and initiates it. With that aggressive style of play, and you take that speed and athletic ability. Then he's so fluid and coordinated. Those are guys who can play both. A guy who can play corner and a safety. And he's smart, as well. I don't think he is a kid who just views himself as a football player. I think he accepts the role of a student athlete and looks beyond that. He has a complete skill-set. He reminds me of a mix athletic ability, size and of those things of a Patrick Peterson-Charles Woodson type of mix in one player. He can play nickel for you, and come in and cover that slot receiver. He can go over and cover the outside as a corner. He can play safety. He's a guy that can fit in anywhere in the secondary."

Newkirk: So comparing Peppers to Peterson and Woodson is a heck of a compliment, do you think he can come in and play right now?

Jackson:" If I was coaching him – he's playing right now. I'm not wasting anytime. I mean, he's No. 1, No. 2 recruit in the country. On top of that, he has the physical tools. It just getting him up to speed mentally. You know, further developing his understanding of offensive concepts and make sure he understands the system. And make sure he knows his job. And corner, that's one of the easiest (positions) schematically having to learn. It's one of the easiest positions to come in and learn, especially if you're in a man-to-man type of system. Where, ‘that's your guys, go get him' type of thing. But he's a guy in my opinion that can do it all."

Newkirk: The offense look like it will go through some growing pains with the loss of two lineman to the NFL. So the defense will probably have to carry the offense early on this season and keep them close in games. In the spring game you saw the defense, specifically the secondary have their moments, does Michigan have the skilled players now to be more of a pressure defense in the secondary?

Jackson: "They have depth. There has been no depth in the past. After the spring game, I said ‘OK, there is a competition going on.' Just because Blake (Countess) and Raymon (Taylor) were the starters last year, I don't think it's a guarantee that those will be your starters at the beginning of the season. They can be beat out because there is some talented young individuals like Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling, and then you throw Jabrill Peppers into that mix and you have five corners who are competing for starting time there. That's a problem that you want to have. And most college programs do not have that type of problem. That was a problem that we had when I was here. There was always competition offensively and defensively, and you really had to be on top of your game. Competition brings out the best in all of us. So I think just from that standpoint, where I know if I am not on my job, that guy behind me can come in and take my place. You better believe those guys are worker then they ever have before. That's going to turn out to be such a positive thing for the team."

Newkirk: Take off your Michigan hat off for a second, what are your expectations for this team in 2014?

Jackson:"It's hard to make a prediction. Do I think there were some improvements in the spring game? Yes, especially defensively in the secondary stood out the most. An offensively, even though it wasn't perfect, and it never will be and they could have done a lot better. I think we have a better system offensively in place. You see the three-step, the five-step drops. You see the play-action and type of running game that will come and be more of a pro-style type offense. I think it will bode well for Michigan as the season goes on. As we saw in the spring game, there is some growing pains. Obviously, I am biased, but I think this will be a positive season. I don't know if it is a Big Ten championship season. I don't think we are there yet. Are we going in that direction? Yes, and I think that's a lot to ask expecting a Big Ten championship this season. That's a lot to ask."

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