U-M’s Peppers won’t elaborate on injury, status

PEPPERS: Michigan redshirt freshman safety Jabrill Peppers runs with the ball this season. His status for Friday’s Citrus Bowl is uncertain. (Detroit Free Press photo)

PEPPERS: Michigan redshirt freshman safety Jabrill Peppers runs with the ball this season. His status for Friday’s Citrus Bowl is uncertain. (Detroit Free Press photo)

ORLANDO — Jabrill Peppers is the hottest topic in steamy central Florida with the Citrus Bowl just one day away.

While Michigan’s redshirt freshman safety admitted Wednesday he’s “working through” an injury, he wouldn’t say what it is and wouldn’t commit to whether he’ll play in Friday’s game against Florida.

“I always expect to play,” Peppers said at the bowl’s Day for Kids event on Tinker Field, just outside the Citrus Bowl stadium.

Will he play on Friday? “We’ll see.”

Through the week of practice, U-M coach Jim Harbaugh would only say Peppers was “out there” at practice, not defining whether he was going through everything.

Peppers bristled at the notion that he missed time. Asked if he practiced fully on the trip, he said yes, and it was “absolutely” the same as the whole season.

While he has worn a splint on his right hand at points this week, Peppers insisted his injury isn’t “what you speculated.”

“I’m not saying nothing,” he said.

His presence is important for the Wolverines, who started him at safety all year, but eventually had him at more than 10 different positions in all three phases.

Asked about that workload, which reduced slightly after he topped 90 plays at Minnesota, Peppers said he made no requests and will just do whatever the coaches ask him to do.

U-M QB Morris returning, vows to compete for job in 2016

ORLANDO — Shane Morris has seen all of those stories and laughed.

Everyone who’s inside his head, who is certain he’s transferring because he chose to redshirt this season.

He laughs because he knows he’s not going anywhere.

“I committed as a sophomore when I was a little kid,” said Morris, a junior who started a game each of his first two seasons at U-M in place of Devin Gardner. “People thinking I’m going to leave? This is my dream school, it’s my dream to graduate from Michigan and that’s going to happen. I’m going to play here, it’s going to be great.”

Morris said after he lost the preseason quarterback competition to fifth-year senior Jake Rudock, he and coach Jim Harbaugh reached the “mutual agreement that it was the best thing to do” for him to redshirt.

The idea was to save a year of eligibility that he could use in the future, to have two years remaining after this year, where he would have been relegated to a backup role.

For a player who was a four-star prospect in the 2013 class, it was a tough decision to sit.

“It was the best idea for me to not take this year off but use this year to get better, get bigger, stronger and learn the offense, learn what the coaches want us to do and get two more years out of it.”

His plan is to graduate in May 2017, so he still has another full season and expects to compete for the job again with Rudock gone. He knows there are a bevy of
other quarterbacks — transfer John O’Korn, who also has two more years, incoming freshman Brandon Peters, Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone who redshirted as a freshman this year — but expects he can win the job.

“It is a wide open competition, there won’t be any QB 1, 2, 3 like last year,” Morris said.

He said he understands the offense more, improved his accuracy and worked on “little things” because his arm wasn’t fatigued from taking starters’ snaps.

Morris was never light but gained 10-12 pounds and now weighs 217 pounds.

There were moments he wished he was on the field, especially when he saw Wilton Speight come in and win the Minnesota game after Rudock left injured. But Morris doesn’t regret the decision.

“I did the best I could, I had a good camp but Jake had a better one,” Morris said. “He had a great season and played really well through all the games… I’m really proud of him. He’s played great and earned it.”

Morris was able to see the areas where he can improve and emulate Rudock.

“I wanted to play, wanted to be the starter but everything happens for a reason,” Morris said.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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