Greg Jackson will be inheriting a talented group of defensive backs this fall.
Though more specifically he will be sharing duties with Mike Zordich and coach the safeties, Jackson might have the better deal out of the two because of one person.
During Michigan’s Media Day on Thursday, Jackson was naturally asked about Peppers and what he can bring to the new defense this season. With Peppers expected to wear many hats this season, one that might include a role on the offense, Jackson doesn’t see any issues, as he knows Peppers’ role lies mainly with the defense.
“I don’t think it’s going to mess with us defensively,” Jackson said. “I don’t think he’s going to have a ton of plays on offense. We went through a whole spring where he knows the whole defense now. All it is, is just memorization now, getting back from the summer and retooling his mind and getting his mind right. Seeing things and reacting to things. I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
Even as a freshman, Peppers was considered a vocal leader on the field despite missing the majority of the season with injury. Some coaches prefer their vocal leaders to be seniors and some prefer the opposite.
For Jackson, it doesn’t matter who the vocal leader is. All he knows is that leadership comes naturally for Peppers.
“I don’t care who takes that role,” Jackson said. “He could be a senior, freshman, sophomore, junior, it doesn’t matter. If you do that as a freshman it’s in your nature, you do it as a sophomore it’s in your nature. So the guys who are like that are going to step up. Some guys are like that vocally and some guys are not. Some guys play well without talking a lot, they show by example how well they play. Everybody is different. You can’t try to motivate everybody to be that type of person. It’s going to to naturally come out.
“It’s come naturally for Peppers on the first day because that’s who he is. When he talks, it motivates him. It gets him to play better.”
Jackson, like so many other coaches, is very impressed with what Peppers brings to the team in such a small amount of time being around each other. For Jackson, what impresses him the most is that Peppers only has one gear.
And that gear is full speed ahead.
“I think his leadership vocally,” Jackson said. “The way he practices, everything is full speed with Jabrill. When he makes a mistake it’s almost like you keep making the same mistake, but you recover so quickly it’s almost like he didn’t make the mistake.”
Of course, with any player come flaws. Luckily for Peppers, the flaws that Jackson outlined are coachable and fixable. Once he gains more experience, the mental side of the game will come more naturally to him as well.
“I think the biggest thing with Jabrill is that he’s young and that he’s going to have to stay on it mentally,” Jackson said. “I’m going to have to make sure he stays on it mentally. The thing is that he plays so fast at a high speed, sometimes, like I told him earlier, I don’t want to take any of that away from you. All I want you to do is start thinking more clearly. If he can do that, I think the sky is the limit for him.”