Mattison Says Peppers' Playing ‘Everywhere’

Michigan’s secondary will be utilizing the services of one of the top freshman college football players in the country in defensive back Jabrill Peppers this fall. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and Coach Brady Hoke discuss Peppers first week on the practice field.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- One week of practice, that is all the Michigan coaches have to judge the talent and progress of former five-star talent now true freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers.

Even in limited time, Peppers has convinced fourth year defensive coordinator Greg Mattison at least some of the hype is certainly warranted.  

“I know he’s a good football player,” Mattison said Sunday morning at Michigan’s media day. “Here’s what I didn’t know because you can’t know this cause you’re not with him, he loves to play football; that’s what you didn’t know.

“You saw him in games be very aggressive, very talented, but now that we’re with him he just really loves to be out there playing.

“He brings it every play and he’s got to gain some maturity where, when you’re a guy who’s been as successful as he is you never ever heard somebody say ‘that’s wrong, you can’t do that.’ Although his coach is a tremendous high school coach, but he just brings a lot of fire.”

For Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who was open about his intention to shield Peppers from some of the outside pressure surrounding him this season, the freshman’s approach has been exactly what he’d hoped for.

"Obviously, we think he's a pretty good football player or we wouldn't have recruited him,” Hoke said. “Jabrill has got a lot of athleticism.

“He loves to play and compete. There's an element you love about that, because how he goes about it every day."

Following a recruitment that resulted in a rapped verbal commitment to the University of Michigan, broadcasted on ESPN, the attention and pats on the back would get to most.

But Peppers has maintained composure since arriving in Ann Arbor, requiring no mention of tempering expectations.

“I haven’t had to say a thing to him about it cause we coach him really hard,” Mattison said. “There’s no pampering, you’re just a guy in our defense. Obviously with what his success was in high school he probably will get attention, he’s been very mature about it.

“He understands it’s Michigan now and when you’re Michigan you’re just one of the team and you’re responsible to do what the team is asking you to do and that’s what he’s done.”

Exactly where Michigan will ask Peppers to play this fall was debated heavily leading up to fall camp but it appears the coaches have settled on one spot, playing the role of nickel.

While Mattison did confirm that role for Peppers as things currently stand with three weeks left until the season opener on Aug. 30 against Appalachian State, Mattison also added, “Nickel, corner; he’s playing everywhere but nickel is what we’re putting (him) on.”

Mattison expanded on Michigan’s reasoning for putting Peppers at nickel.

“The way offenses are now-a-days you’ve got to play nickel so much more,” Mattison said. “The nickel position is a very important position on the defense compared to where it was maybe five to 10 years ago so you have to have a guy in there that’s going to be playing a whole bunch in that game.

“And if you put a guy at safety and need him at nickel he’s going to play two positions and may not become as good as he can be at that time as a youngster.”

Pressed further and asked whether or not he believes Peppers is ready to make an impact for his defense, Mattison was tight lipped.

“I expect him to play up to his ability and we wouldn’t have him in there if we didn’t feel he could help us have a really good defense,” he said.

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