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Crable Puts Career in Perspective
By: Sam Webb
Shawn Crable has matured both on and off the field and it’s evident to all those around him, including his coaches. Now, with a newfound approach and perspective, the junior linebacker is poised to take his game to the next level.
Motivation and where it comes from is an age old debate in the realm of athletics. Many observers believe it is the coach’s job to motivate a player to perform to the best of his ability. Others believe that it is the responsibility of the player. The reality of the truth is probably somewhere in between. Coaches can inspire, but players have to meet them half way. Motivation to perform and excel must come from within. When a player isn’t motivated, coaches are left in a quandary. The coach can challenge the player’s pride or teach him a lesson by withholding playing time, but ultimately it is the player’s choice. During the past three years at Michigan, that was the dilemma with Massillon, Ohio native Shawn Crable.
The former Army All-American came in with great fanfare as a five star prospect and one of the top linebacker prospects in the country. After redshirting his first year and playing sparingly during his second campaign, the 6-5, 247-pounder was supposed to break into the line-up last year and become a major contributor on defense. That plan, however, never got off the drawing board.
"Last fall he was a major disappointment in training camp,” Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said. “He did not understand the kind of effort, the kind of intensity, and the kind of attention that you have to pay on a daily basis to the game. So it kept him on the bench.”
Carr urged his talented pupil to play up to his ability and cautioned the youngster about squandering the type of opportunity that most people wish they had…the chance to play college football and have the God-given ability to play it at a high level.
“Oh man, Coach Carr was something tough,” recalled Crable. “He was only tough because he always said I was one of those guys that he didn’t know whether I was going to play or not. When I came in they were all hyped, like, ‘this guy is going to do great things.’ While I’ve been here, I have been playing around. Sometimes I was good, and sometimes I was just alright. He would say, ‘I don’t know if you are really into it.’ After the season, he sat me down and talked with me and said that he believed that I can play, and that he believed that I could play here. He had high hopes for me and hoped that I had the same things for myself.”
Crable did have high hopes for himself and they finally began to manifest themselves in a change of behavior late last season. The light bulb seemed to come on versus Northwestern when he registered a career best three tackles, including a 15-yard sack. The youngster followed that up with another career-best four-tackle performance versus the Buckeyes before ending the year with two stops, one sack, and a pass break-up against Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl. To Crable the differences seem subtle initially, but in reality, they were momentous.
“I think I noticed that my approach was different,” admitted Crable. “I don’t really think I really did too much different. I think I just understood what they were asking me to do and just decided to do it. I think it worked out good. It’s a big difference from last year. Last year it was, ‘we don’t know where he is going to fit in…we don’t know if he is going to step up.’ During Spring, it was kinda’ hush, kinda’ quiet. They were on my back if I wasn’t doing good, just like everybody else. Then after spring, I get all of the accolades people saying, 'you were ballin’, you were doing this or that.' But, I’m excited. If you are going to put me in the play, let me play. They’ve got big plans for me now.”
"Eventually he came to the realization that there was a standard that he was going to have to meet,” said Carr. “The good news is that he learned a valuable lesson. Late in the season, I thought he developed and made a lot of plays for us. He worked extremely hard this winter and he had -- of all of our linebackers, he was the outstanding linebacker on this team this spring. He was outstanding.”
New defensive coordinator Ron English’s agreed with his boss’ evaluation of the young linebacker, but warned against reading too much into the performance.
“He was outstanding,” said English. “He was a playmaker which was really critical. I think Shawn Crable loves to play, and I think he played like he loves to play. I think he is extremely talented. To me, those were the things that really showed. He really loved to play and he was very very talented. But I’ll say this…that was in practice. That was in Spring Practice. Spring practice and the games are two different things. Shawn Crable has got to prove it on Saturday. That’s the deal. That’s what we need from Shawn Crable.”
For the rest of this story on Shawn Crable, plus features on Michigan
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