The 137th edition of the Michigan Football team might not have won any national awards as a team, but that did not stop a trip to earn several individual national and Big Ten conference awards.
Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, and Jake Butt, are some of the top players in the country and potential first round selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. What did each of these players accomplish at the national level? Let’s take a look.
The “do-it-all” or “Swiss Army Knife” delivered a huge season for the Wolverines after a lot of pre-season hype.
Peppers won the following two national awards:
- Lott IMPACT Trophy given to the most Outstanding Defensive Player.
- Paul Hornung Award, for the Most Versatile Player.
He was also named an AP First Team All-American.
Peppers was also a finalist for following awards:
- Heisman Trophy – most Outstanding Player
- Maxwell Award – most Outstanding Player
- Walter Camp Award – Player of the Year
- Chuck Bednarik Award – Defensive Player of the Year
- Bronko Nagurski Award – Defensive Player of the Year
- Rotary Lombardi Award – Top Linebacker/Offensive Lineman
Peppers was the first player in The Big Ten to win the following three awards in the same season:
- Rogers-White Return Specialist of the Year
- Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year
- Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
Peppers was also named First Team All-Big Ten as a return specialist.
On the defensive side of the ball, Peppers contributed a career-best 72 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
On special teams, he posted 21 punt returns for 310 yards (14.8 avg.) and a touchdown and had 10 kickoff returns for 260 yards (26.0 avg.). He also contributed on the offensive side of the ball, rushing 27 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns while catching two passes.
Peppers has a chance to increase these numbers in the Orange Bowl against Florida State. Playing virtually every position other than the offensive and defensive line, the New Jersey native’s versatility made his case for multiple national awards.
The talented senior cornerback was nominated for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the most outstanding defensive back in the nation. However, USC’s Adoree’ Jackson took the award home over Lewis. Lewis earned the following awards/honors:
- AP First Team All-American.
- The Big Ten Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year, and became the first Wolverine to win the award.
- First Team All-Big Ten as a defensive back.
Even though Lewis missed the first three games of the season, he tallied 23 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 10 passes defended, and two interceptions on the defensive side. As a kick returner, Lewis returned five kicks for an average of 17.2 yards.
The senior tight end won the John Mackey award, given for the most Outstanding Tight End. He edged out Alabama’s OJ Howard and Clemson’s Jordan Leggett in the voting and became the first Wolverine to win the national award. Butt also received the following awards/honors:
- AP Second Team All-American honors.
- In the Big Ten, Butt won the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award, his second time winning the award. He is the second Wolverine to win the award, Devin Funchess won in 2013.
- First Team All-Big Ten honors.
He hauled in 43 receptions for 518 yards and four touchdowns in the 12 games this season with an opportunity to increase the numbers for his draft stock in the upcoming Orange Bowl.
We have one final game to watch these three in a Michigan uniform, unless Peppers decides to rerun for another year. Fans will miss watching this trio, but they have set the foundation for others to step up and fill their big shoes next year.