Expectations are through the roof for Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, but no single publication may be higher on him than Cleveland.com. The prominent Ohio-based website put together an extensive and thorough ranking of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2016 season, and while fans of the Buckeyes won't like it, Peppers occupied the number one spot.
Suggesting that Peppers will be one of the best players in the conference is nothing new, as the converted linebacker has been featured on many preseason All-Big Ten lists. However, assigning the do-everything athlete as the number one player is quite aggressive, especially given the presence of Ohio State's J.T. Barrett and Raekwon McMillan, Iowa's Desmond King and even Michigan teammates Jourdan Lewis and Jake Butt.
Still, Doug Lesmerises (who wrote the piece on Peppers) justified this ranking by referencing Peppers' incredible versatility and durability:
That's why he's No. 1 on this list.
Not because he's the best linebacker. Or the best return man. Or one of the most dangerous offensive threats.
It's because he's all of those things, and because Jim Harbaugh won't be afraid to use him in those roles. Peppers could play 100 snaps a game, and anyone playing that much, and this well, deserves the top spot.
It remains to be seen just how Harbaugh and his staff will deploy Jabrill Peppers on a game-to-game basis. We know that he is a starting linebacker (despite his 205-pound frame), but he could be utilized as a box safety, kick and punt returner, wide receiver, running back or even cornerback over the course of the campaign. He is, unquestionably, a unique talent, but this type of buzz won't be received well in all corners of the Big Ten world, and Peppers will be under real pressure to live up to it on the field.
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