BRADENTON, FL- While dominating a sprinting drill during Tuesday’s spring football practice at IMG Academy, redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers mildly hinted that he may be playing strongside linebacker for Michigan this fall.
Jabrill Peppers just won a sprint with the fastest guys on the team and shouted: 'Your SAM linebacker's the fastest guy on the team!'
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 1, 2016
The 6-1, 205 pounder started at safety last year, but he also played cornerback, nickelback, and dime linebacker. recording 45 tackles and 10 pass breakups, Jabrill displayed a rare type of athleticism that allowed him to play all over the field.
This position switch may not be set in stone, but Peppers has practiced exclusively at linebacker the past two days, and is likely to play a hybrid role in first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown’s Defense. “I think we’ve got to give this guy a bunch of jobs,” Coach Brown said Tuesday. Brown’s defense at Boston College was built on aggressive attacking. Blitz packages that rushed the line of scrimmage through his linebackers were a key component to why he had one of the most successful defensive campaigns in 2015.
Jabrill exhibits the strength and speed that will allow him to excel at LB, and the shortage of depth at the position may be one reason why they are testing him out. This is most likely a situational move where he will play against a spread offense. By playing Peppers in the box, Brown can utilize him in blitz packages, giving him top end speed off the edge, speed that Michigan desperately lacked in its LB corp last year.