Jabrill Peppers was two years old in 1997, but that did not stop him from thinking about Michigan vs. Ohio State.
Peppers posted a story for The Players Tribune in advance of the 2015 match-up between the two programs, and a large portion of his thoughts were geared around Charles Woodson and "modeling his game" around the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner. Here is a snippet of Peppers' thoughts:
I remember watching the rivalry game against Ohio State in 1997. He took a punt return back for a touchdown, caught a pass on offense and intercepted a ball in the end zone on defense.
I was really young at the time — probably too young to even fully remember — but once I grew up a little bit and started to really understand football, I understood how crazy that performance was. It made me want to be that kind of player, the kind who contributes in all three phases of the game. The kind who makes big plays in clutch moments to win games.
It is undoubtedly amusing to consider a 2-year-old Peppers taking things in during the game that would vault Woodson to the Heisman Trophy, but even if we simply assume that the now 20-year-old defensive back recalled the game after the fact, it is impressive to think that it influenced him in this way.
My first "clutch" moment was back in Pop Warner, when I took a toss play to the right for a game-winning touchdown as time expired, and I literally ran out of one of my cleats. The whole way down the field I was thinking, Charles Woodson ... to the 15 ... to the 10 ... to the five ...
I can still picture the image of him after that Ohio State game with the rose in his mouth. That's what made me want to wear the Winged Helmet.
Because he is a three-way threat even as a true freshman, the most common comparison for Peppers during his time at Michigan has been to Woodson, making this recollection even cooler from an outsider's perspective. Jim Harbaugh and fans of the Wolverines are undoubtedly happy that Peppers will be returning for (at least) one more Michigan-OSU game after 2015, but in any event, the budding superstar will be playing out a dream on Saturday in Ann Arbor.
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