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Jabrill Peppers entering NFL after junior year at Michigan

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Jabrill Peppers is taking his do-it-all talent to the NFL.

The Heisman Trophy finalist announced his plans Tuesday to enter the draft and skip his senior season at Michigan.

"It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Peppers said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "I'm choosing between cementing my legacy as a college player and starting my pro legacy. It's something you dream of when you were a kid. I was torn between the two."

Peppers told the magazine he made his decision last week while with his family in New Jersey and told coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday.

"He thanked me and told me it was a pleasure to coach me," Peppers said. "I told him it was a pleasure to play for him. He molded me for the next level, that's how he operates. He runs his program like an NFL team."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers is projected to be a first-round pick in April.

He did not play for the sixth-ranked Wolverines in a 33-32 loss to No. 10 Florida State on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl because of an injured left hamstring.

Peppers led the Wolverines with 16 tackles for losses, including four sacks, ranked third with 72 tackles, had one interception and forced a fumble as a junior. He had 27 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns on offense. On special teams, he returned a punt for a score in a win over Colorado and averaged a Big Ten-best 14.8 yards on punt returns and averaged 26 yards on kickoff returns.

Peppers played defensive back and a freshman and sophomore before moving to linebacker, one of 15 positions the team says he played last season on defense, offense and special teams. He likely will line up as a safety in NFL and may returns punts and kicks. The All-American won the Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile college football player and the Lott Trophy, which honors a defensive player for character and performance.

Michigan (10-3) finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press college football poll .

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Updated January 10, 2017

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