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Jabrill Peppers out of Orange Bowl lineup for Wolverines

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Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, one of the top defensive players in college football, is not playing for the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.

Peppers' absence was due to an injury sustained in practice, according to the school. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted Peppers was dealing with a nagging hamstring injury.

Peppers, a third-year sophomore, has yet to announce whether he will apply for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

He was among the top defensive players in the Big Ten Conference this year, leading the Wolverines with 16 tackles for loss. The versatile Peppers played defensive back as a redshirt freshman in 2015, but moved primarily to a linebacker role this year. Also a dangerous return specialist and an occasional spark for the Michigan offense, Peppers won the 2016 Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player.

College underclassmen have until a Jan. 16 deadline to file for early draft eligibility.

Peppers has been compared to Arizona Cardinals All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu. An NFC executive projected Peppers as a top-five draft choice in November, while another NFL scout holds him in higher regard as a prospect than the Jacksonville Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey, who was the No. 5 overall pick in 2016.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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