Peppers Taking a Vocal Role on Defense

Redshirt freshman safety Jabrill Peppers has stepped up his game verbally in spring camp.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Jabrill Peppers is a vocal communicator -- literally -- and his teammates and coaches have already taken notice too.

The former five-star cornerback turned safety, has taken control of the backend of Michigan's secondary. His position change comes after he missed most of freshman year with a lingering ankle injury. However, that time off the field gave Peppers an opportunity to learn the game, says senior Blake Countess.

"He got that year to kind of sit back and watch and take those mental reps," Countess said of Peppers. "He was able to get his head in the playbook and understand the defense. Not just defense, but understand offenses. He came back and got healthy -- and he's attacking it."

Adding: "You definitely know he's there. He's going to let you know he's there."

Peppers' communication skills are just one of many things he does well on the football field, says safety coach Greg Jackson.

“I expect to see him communicate in the secondary, which he does with no problem,” Jackson said. “I expect him to hustle to the football, which he does with no problem. I expect to see him get his hands on balls, he does that with no problem.

“He does everything you ask him to do and he does much more. Pep is the type of player that’s not going to get relaxed because he’s got that fire within.”

Cornerback coach Mike Zordich confirmed Peppers switch to safety, noting Peppers heads to Jackson's meeting room and not his. Although he was quick to compliment Peppers, when asked if he alone is making the cornerbacks better this season.

"Yes, he absolutely is," Zordich said. "You'd be surprised, [Peppers] is a very excitable player. But at the same time, he's a bright player. He's learning the defense very well. He's lining people up. His competitive attitude helps bring out more in everybody on defense. Not just the corners alone."

"It's a great fit," junior Jourdan Lewis said of Peppers playing safety. "All of us talking with each other. It just feels right. First time we went out there, Jabrill was just talking. Everybody is out there on the same page. We have a lot more work to do. But I feel good about what we are doing."

So do the Michigan coaches.

“And the funny thing is everybody looks up to him when he’s out there," Jackson said. "He plays with a passion, he’s tough, he knows what he’s doing, and he’s always around the football. What more can you ask for from a guy like Jabrill?”

Michigan plays its annual spring game on April 4.

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