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Michigan’s breakout star has no position — but all the talent

Jabrill_Peppers1WEBTwo years ago, Desmond Howard visited Michigan practice and left disgusted. He didn’t like what he saw. Yes, it was practice, but the effort was poor, the execution lacking. This wasn’t the Michigan the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner remembered.

The former Wolverine criticized the practice habits under then-coach Brady Hoke, and took plenty of abuse for it. But there was one positive the ESPN analyst took away with him that day. It was a true freshman named Jabrill Peppers. He shared his feelings on him, too.

“I took some flak on Twitter about that comment, and look where we are today,” Howard said in a phone interview.

Indeed, two years later, entering his sophomore season, Peppers is the talk of the nation, a multi-faceted weapon coach Jim Harbaugh plans to unleash in myriad ways, the key, many believe, to the Wolverines living up to their lofty preseason hype and winning the Big Ten crown for the first time since 2004.

Peppers, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from East Orange, N.J., and Paramus Catholic High, is coming off a breakthrough redshirt freshman year under Harbaugh, a season in which he earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year and All-Big Ten first-team defense honors. He was used at cornerback, safety, running back, wide receiver, punt returner, kick returner and even wildcat quarterback, thriving all over the field. In the spring, new defensive coordinator Don Brown used Peppers as a strong-side linebacker, which gives the Wolverines more versatility.

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