The Michigan football team’s defense dominated its opponents all year long. Tuesday night, it dominated the Big Ten’s award show.
All 11 of Michigan’s defensive starters received honors from the Big Ten, with eight making either first or second team All-Big Ten and three earning honorable mentions.
Jabrill Peppers was the big winner, taking home the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of of the Year, Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and Rodgers-Dwight return specialist of the year awards. In fact, only one of the four individual defensive awards not given to Michigan — the conference’s Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year award was given to Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis.
Peppers was the first player to win three awards since the conference expanded its awards program in 2011.
Peppers, who is in the running to be a Heisman Trophy finalist, tallied 16 tackles for loss in the regular season and had one interception. He made an impact all over the field, lining up defensively at linebacker, safety and cornerback, as well as playing offense and serving as the Wolverines’ main return man.
A redshirt sophomore, Peppers is just the fourth Michigan player to win Defensive Player of the Year, following Charles Woodson (who also won the Heisman in 1997), Larry Foote (2001) and LaMarr Woodley (2006).
He was also one of four Wolverines named first team All-Conference on defense, along with senior defensive end Taco Charlton, fifth-year senior defensive end Chris Wormley (coaches) and senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
Lewis took home the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award, capping a season in which he took away half the field for the Wolverines. Even with teams seldom throwing his way, Lewis broke up 12 passes and intercepted two. He allowed just eight receptions all season.
His biggest highlight-reel play came on a fourth-down deep ball against Wisconsin, when Lewis made an outstretched, one-handed grab to ice the game. Lewis was the anchor of the nation’s No. 1 pass defense, a distinction reflected in the vast number of Wolverines honored Tuesday during the Big Ten Network’s hour-long award special.
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, senior cornerback Channing Stribling, senior safety Delano Hill (coaches) and senior linebacker Ben Gedeon (media) were named to the second team.
Earning honorable mentions were fifth-year senior defensive tackle Matt Godin (coaches), redshirt junior linebacker Mike McCray and senior safety Dymonte Thomas.
Fifth-year senior Kenny Allen was the second team All-Big Ten punter and an honorable mention at kicker.
The Coach of the Year awards were split between Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst (coaches) and Penn State’s James Franklin (media), the two coaches who will compete for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis this Saturday.