Mag Excerpt: Q & A with Steve Szabo

With GoBlueWolverine's offensive preview issue already on newsstands, the finishing touches were just put on next month's defensive preview. In this mag except we highlight our conversation with Michigan linebackers coach Steve Szabo. He discussed the difference between pro and college coaching, the progress of JUCO transfer Austin Panter, his thoughts on MIKE LB John Thompson, and much more.

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Q: Last year was your first year back in college football in a while. How was the transition back from the pros to the college game?

Steve Szabo: “It wasn’t too difficult. I think football is football, but I think the college game was just more fun. The younger people aren’t professionals so they have a greater degree of enthusiasm with what they do and it’s a little bit more enjoyable.”

Q: How much of an adjustment was getting back to recruiting?

Steve Szabo: “Recruiting was the biggest adjustment. It had been 12 years since I was last in college football, and the texting and cell phones were new. I have enough trouble with the normal phones and here I was trying to text (laughing). You get it done, but it’s still different.”

Q: Who are looking like the starting linebackers going into the fall?

Steve Szabo: “We’re going into camp with Crable at SAM, John Thompson at MIKE and Chris Graham at WILL.”

Q: Austin Panter came in from junior college and struggled a little bit in the spring. Can you talk about his adjustment and what his future at Michigan looks like?

Steve Szabo: “Spring was rough for Austin. He played eight-man football in high school in Kansas and then went to junior college out there. He doesn’t have a vast background in 11-man football. He struggled in the spring, but I think he’ll come back a different man this fall. He’s become acclimated to the university and his teammates and I think he’ll come back much more competitive in the fall.”

Q: You lost possibly the best middle linebacker in college football. Talk about the progress Johnny Thompson has made this spring to get ready to step into his role.

Steve Szabo:David Harris was a terrific kid. David made coaching fun. It was a treat to watch a guy play the way he did and make the plays that he did. John’s got to step up to the plate. He’s got a ways to go, but I’m often reminded by the coaches of some comments that I made last spring about David being a little mediocre (laughing). Thompson is the same way. He’s not a house hold name right now, but you never know with how hard he’ll work.”

For the rest of the defensive preview, which includes features on Ron English, Brandon Graham, the facilities upgrades, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine The Magazine. Subscription to the annual pass currently includes 56 issues of Sports Illustrated, so get in now!

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