One of the top freshmen in the Class of 2014 will be adding some additional responsibilities his first season at the collegiate level. And, somewhere, Charles Woodson is smiling over the development.
While not really a surprise, and saying “we want improvement” in that phase of the game, Michigan’s Brady Hoke confirmed Friday that star 2014 signee Jabrill Peppers will be utilized as the Wolverines’ primary punt returner. After averaging just over six yards a return last season, one of the fastest players in the most recent recruiting class certainly won’t do anything but help that unit.
“That’ll be Jabrill,” the head coach said when asked about the job of returning punts. “I think, No. 1, we’re putting a lot of our best guys on the field. I think that’s a plus. I think we’ve had some (punt returners) in the last three years that have been decent, and sometimes maybe we haven’t fielded the ball as well as we should sometimes.”
In addition to his punt-return duties, Peppers will play an integral role in UM’s secondary this season, whether it be as a starter or a nickel cornerback. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said a couple of weeks ago that Peppers wouldn’t just be handed a job; with game day a week away, the defensive back has done just that.
Peppers was a consensus five-star recruit, rated as the No. 1 corner and the No. 3 player at any position in the country. Peppers served as the highest-rated recruit UM has ever signed since the founding of Rivals‘ back in 2002. The previous high? Ryan Mallett as the No. 4 player in the Class of 2007.
Oh yeah, and as I said, he’s kind of a fast human being.
Ahead of a huge Top 10 matchup, the Michigan football team has received a bit of inspiration from a pinstriped legend.
Derek Jeter, a Michigan high school graduate who signed with UM coming out of high school before embarking on what will end up being a Hall of Fame baseball career, has been somewhat of a fixture in and around the football program since the Wolverines became a part of Brand Jordan, a brand that Jeter also represents. Along with the brand’s namesake, His Airness Michael Jordan, Jeter was a part of the opener early this year at the Big House. He was at a star-studded National Signing Day event this year as well.
With No. 8 Wisconsin on tap, Jeter decided to leave a gift and, more importantly, a message in the locker of every single player on the fourth-ranked team in the country.
“It is my personal challenge to you all to remain humble, yet hungry, every day along this journey to achieving greatness,” a portion of Jeter’s note read.
Justin Martin won’t get the opportunity to atone for a rough Week 4 performance against Florida after all.
Both 247Sports.com and the Knoxville News Sentinel have reported that Martin has been suspended for No. 11 Tennessee’s game this afternoon against No. 25 Georgia. The only reason given was an unspecified violation of team rules.
Martin had started against the Gators, but head coach Butch Jones had already announced that freshman Baylen Buchanan would get the start at cornerback against the Bulldogs. 247Sports.com writes that, in the win over UF in Week 4, Martin “twice was beaten on deep throws and committed a costly penalty on the game’s opening kickoff.”
The Vols will also be without a pair of starters, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and defensive back Cameron Sutton, because of injuries. It’s also highly doubtful that All-SEC linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin plays because of a lingering shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs won’t be coming into the key SEC East clash unscathed, though, as leading rusher Nick Chubb is not expected to play because of an ankle injury.
The early slate of games has been highlighted by blocked extra-point attempts. Three of them have come in Stillwater, Oklahoma with Oklahoma State doing the job against Texas. One of those blocked attempts was returned by Oklahoma State for two points. Oklahoma State holds the halftime edge with a 37-25 lead following a back-and-forth second quarter that saw four lead changes in the second quarter. Yep. That’s the halftime score.
Oklahoma State jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Longhorns, with Justice Hill running for a 30-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game and Mason Rudolph connecting for a 54-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Texas would settle down though and come back in the first quarter with two straight possessions with touchdowns. Tyrone Swoopes capped a six-play, 84-yard drive with a short touchdown run. One play earlier, Shane Buechele completed a 49-yard pass to Dorian Leonard.
It looked as though Texas was about to tie things up on their next possession (after an Oklahoma State three-and-out) when D'Onta Foreman ran 22 yards for a score, but special teams would help Oklahoma State keep the lead. Tre Flowers wound up returning a blocked PAT attempt to the house off a lateral for two additional points for the Cowboys.
The Longhorns did take a lead in the second quarter with a Swoopes touchdown run inside the red zone, and the lead exchanged hands twice more before the end of the first half. Rudolph capped an 80-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to regain the lead, 23-19, but Buchele launched a 42-yard pass to Beck for a 42-yard score on the ensuing possession. Four plays later on the ensuing possession, Oklahoma State was back on top with a Rudolph touchdown pass to Jalen McCleskey from 36 yards.
We could have a wild one in Stillwater in the second half.
It’s teacher vs. student this afternoon in Columbus, Ohio with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer going head-to-head against Rutgers and head coach Chris Ash. Ash was Meyer’s c0-defensive coordinator last season. Through one half of play, the teacher holds the edge on the student, by a score of 30-0. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown his way into school history with a four-touchdown first half.
Ohio State’s first offensive possession looked promising after starting at their nine-yard line, but J.T. Barrett was picked off by Anthony Cioffi at the Rutgers 36-yard line to kill the drive. The Rutgers offense was unable to capitalize on the ensuing possession and punted after five plays. Ohio State’s offense would respond with a six-play, 61-yard touchdown drive. Barrett made up for his prior interception by connecting with Dontre Wilson inside the red zone for an 18-yard score.
Ohio State would push their lead to 16-0 in the second quarter when Barrett completed a red zone touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin, McLaurin’s first career touchdown reception. The Buckeyes continued to tack on with Barrett’s third touchdown pass of the half. For Barrett, that was his 58th all-time touchdown pass, moving into sole possession of first-place in Ohio State program history.
Rutgers has tried a couple things to keep Ohio state on their toes, but nothing has proved successful thus far.