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Star Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers working at LB, fielding punts

BRADENTON, Fla. -- New Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown already has made one significant change: Star defensive back Jabrill Peppers is working at linebacker during spring practice.

Peppers earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season as a standout at safety, but Brown sees greater potential playing him closer to the line. For one, Michigan lost three linebackers from its 2015 group. And Brown says his aggressive scheme is "linebacker friendly" because linebackers are more involved closer to the line.

"I just think we got to give this guy a bunch of jobs," Brown said Tuesday. "He's a dynamic athlete, and we'll keep him around the line of scrimmage and let him do a bunch of stuff, whether it's cover, whether it's in certain personnel groups, play linebacker-type stuff. Our SAM [strong-side linebacker] is kind of a hybrid. Between [Noah] Furbush and him, I think we can put those two guys together and create some dynamic ability out of that position."

That also lends the ability to disguise packages and alignments.

"That's the beauty of it," Brown said. "We had a package today where he's in technically as a linebacker so you may think you're going to get one alignment, but we can do completely different stuff because who says he has to be in there playing that position? Today he was. Two days from now, he may not. That's how we roll with that."

Peppers, who will be a junior next season, missed Michigan's bowl game with a hand injury but is completely healthy this spring. Although he hasn't worked with the offense yet, Peppers did play some quarterback, running back and receiver a year ago. He also is a returner and has been working on fielding punts during spring practice.

So that leads to an intriguing possibility: Peppers could be in the backfield on both sides of the ball.