Jim Harbaugh has lost his Swiss Army knife a year early.
Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, who electrified the college football world for the last two years in Ann Arbor with his ability to effectively play almost any position on the field, posted a Twitter message Tuesday announcing his intentions to forgo his senior season and begin his professional football career.
— JP5 (@JabrillPeppers) January 10, 2017
Peppers had a true breakout season in 2016 after very solid freshman and sophomore years. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting and earned a trip to New York for the announcement, while receiving Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. Though listed as a linebacker, the East Orange, New Jersey, native was seen all over the field, including but not limited to: linebacker, safety, defensive line, punt return, kick return, wide receiver, running back and Wildcat quarterback. At one point in the season, Harbaugh estimated that Peppers had played 13 different positions at one point or another.
Thanks for the memories, Jabrill!
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) January 10, 2017
Peppers finished his junior year with 72 tackles, a team-high 16 tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception on defense. He also had 167 rushing yards and three touchdowns on offense, a stellar 14.8 average on punt returns with one touchdown and a 26.0 average returning kicks.
His incredible athleticism and ability to seamlessly plug into either a linebacker or secondary position could make him a first-round NFL draft selection, while Michigan will have a big void to fill in his absence next season.