Monday, the University of Michigan Athletic Department announced its 2016-17 male and female Athletes of the Year: Jabrill Peppers (football) and Brienne Minor (women’s tennis). The honor has not gone to either sport since Braylon Edwards won for football in 2005.
The award puts Peppers and Minor in contention for the Big Ten Athletes of the Year, the winners of which are ultimately determined by a media vote. The last Michigan athlete to win was Peter Vanderkaay in 2006 for men’s swimming and diving.
Peppers was the swiss-army knife for the nation’s leading defense, playing 15 different positions for the Wolverines en route to becoming a Heisman award finalist and All-American candidate. His impressive on-field play and accolades made him the 25th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns, where he was drafted as a safety.
Peppers’ all-around talent earned him the Paul Hornung Award for being the most versatile player in college football, and healso won the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and the Rodgers-White Return Specialist of the Year. Peppers finished the season with 72 tackles, four sacks, one interception and one return touchdown, and his presence was a constant threat for opposing offenses.
Minor made headlines as the first athlete in the Michigan women’s tennis program’s history to win a national championship, doing so in a miracle tournament run for the 2017 NCAA singles title over No. 6 Belinda Woolcock. The rising junior entered the NCAA Tournament unseeded, ranked below fellow Wolverine Kate Fahey. Minor rallied for six consecutive wins — dropping just two sets along the way — to clinch the title.
Minor ended her championship season ranked ninth by the ITA with a 33-6 singles record for her second consecutive All-American honors in singles and a unanimous All-Big Ten selection. She also finished 19-5 in dual matches.