The Michigan Wolverines are relevant once again in college football with Jim Harbaugh leading the way. It had been too long since Ann Arbor was filled with the hope of a National Championship appearance, but they are buzzing once again after last season's impressive run and the hot start to the 2016 season.
Looking at the Big Ten conference itself, the Wolverines are without question the No. 2 team. They are currently ranked behind the Ohio State Buckeyes by most sports analysts, although that could change as the season moves forward. Harbaugh has certainly brought the Wolverines back to relevance as they are currently ranked as the No. 4 team in the country.Michigan has a legitimate Heisman contender on their team this season, although many college football fans probably don't even know it.
Jabrill Peppers has been impressive through the first three weeks of the 2016 college football season. He has earned his way up to the No. 6 ranking in the 2016 ESPN Heisman Watch. That is impressive in and of itself, but he has been doing it by being one of the top three-way players in college football history.
Throughout the course of the 2016 season so far, Peppers has racked up 25 tackles and two sacks defensively, 173 yards and a touchdown on punt returns, 81 yards on two kick returns, and 24 yards on two carries. He has not been as active on the offensive side of the football, but Peppers is a weapon that Harbaugh can use whenever he wants.
At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Peppers has made the transition from defensive back to linebacker look easy. He has put on muscle and weight but has kept the speed and athleticism that made him such a big attraction throughout his recruiting process.
It will be interesting to see how the Heisman race looks in a few weeks. Peppers could fall out of the running between now and then, although it seems unlikely at this point in time. He is too important to the Wolverines to lose the roles that he has earned and the production that he is putting out.ESPN has five players on the list ahead of Peppers, as we noted above. Lamar Jackson is leading the way in convincing fashion, while Christian McCaffery from Stanford, J.T. Barrett from Ohio State, Donnel Pumphrey of San Diego State, and Greg Ward Jr. of Houston are all ahead of Peppers as well.
There is no question that the Michigan star is deserving of a spot on everyone's Heisman watch list at this point of the season. If he continues to make the kind of impact that he has so far, and the Wolverines continue winning, he might find himself in the mix at the end of the season as well.Simply taking a look at the gap between Jackson and Peppers, there is very little chance that Peppers has a chance to win the award when everything is said and done. We previously wrote a column for the Inquisitr asking whether Jackson was the best player in college football.
Even though the chances are not good that Peppers will win the Heisman, simply being on the list is a big thing for him. He has received quite a bit of hate throughout his Michigan career, but Peppers has risen above it to become the star that many thought he could become.All of that being said, there is no denying that Peppers is a legitimate threat in the Heisman race. If Jackson stumbles and the rest of the field doesn't take advantage, there is a chance Peppers could sneak in.
One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that Peppers is one of the most versatile players that college football has ever seen.
Expect to see Michigan continue having a successful season and competing for a Big Ten title. Peppers is a huge part of their success and will have to continue performing at a high level for the Wolverines to have a chance at winning the Big Ten.
[Featured Image by Tony Ding/AP Images]