By: Will Burchfield
Jabrill Peppers got to know Brandon Peters last season and came away impressed.
“Good kid,” said Peppers. “More athletic than he looks. He had some of the things that you can’t coach, you can’t teach. I look forward to watching him grow, getting his shine. He has one of the best teachers in Coach Harbaugh, so he’s in pretty good shape.”
At this time last year Peters wasn’t much more than a highly-acclaimed redshirt freshman. Now, after taking over for John O’Korn two weeks ago, he’s Michigan’s starting quarterback.
He’s yet to really leave his mark on a game, but Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said on Wednesday it’s only a matter of time.
“There will be an opportunity here for Brandon to show his throwing talents and for the receivers to catch the ball, said Drevno, noting the Wolverines haven’t relied much on Peters because their running game has been so strong. “You just keep using what’s working for you and don’t back off until they stop it.”
For Peppers, the transition to the NFL has been difficult. He’s looked out of place in Cleveland’s defensive scheme and hasn’t made much of an impact on special teams. He acknowledged on Wednesday that he hasn’t played as well as he’d like, but said he doesn’t regret leaving Michigan after his junior year.
“That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, man. I just felt like it was my time. I put in the work, I felt I was ready. It was a hard decision, but at the end of the day I think I made the right one,” Peppers said.
Compounding his struggles on the field, Peppers, the 25th overall selection in this year’s draft, has found it tough being a former Michigan player in the state of Ohio.
“Yeah, it definitely is. Most of the people here don’t like me anyways because of how they felt about me in Michigan or they felt I went too high or they wanted (Malik) Hooker out of OSU,” said Peppers. “But other than that, the true Browns fans have been showing me a lot of love.”
The 22-year-old has missed Cleveland’s past two games with a toe injury, but he’ll play on Sunday versus the Lions. He said he hasn’t though much about returning to play in the state of Michigan — he has enough to worry about with the Browns at 0-8 — but he’s done his best to keep up with his former team. And he isn’t satisfied.
“Nah man, we lost to Michigan State,” Peppers said. “But great thing about the sport of college football is crazy things happen and you control your own destiny if you keep winning. We got a couple big ones coming up against Wisconsin and then the big one at the end of the year, and that one is usually for high stakes. All their goals are still right in front of them.”
Peppers has not been back to his alma mater this season, but it’s clear Ann Arbor holds a special place in his heart. What does he miss about it the most?
“Just how much of a sports town it is, how nice the people are, just being around my fraternity brothers and my close friends,” said Peppers.