Q & A with Larry Foote

The former U-M linebacker was a guest speaker at NFL HSPD camp in Detroit on Wednesday. GBW caught up with Foote, as he talked about influencing the kids of Detroit, his thoughts on Michigan, Notre Dame dropping the rivalry, his expectations in Pittsburgh next season and more.

Josh Newkirk: You're out here at the NFL HSPD camp, what brings you to an event like this?

Larry Foote: "Just growing up in Detroit, this is a big camp. (Event Manager, Curtis) Blackwell is doing a great job of getting these kids together and bringing the right kids around teaching them the right fundamentals and techniques. And Detroit is full of talent. A lot of guys are coming out of here through football. A lot people think it's a basketball city, but it's really a football city. Just by the numbers and talent that's coming out here year in and year out."

Josh Newkirk: Now, I know you played for the Detroit Lions for a season and for the Pittsburgh Steelers for most of your career, but what's it like coming back and speaking to the kids?

Larry Foote: "It's awesome. That's what got me where I'm at. Older guys that paved the way came back and gave me some wisdom. I'm just proud to give back. It's just natural. Eventually when I get done (playing in the NFL), hopefully I can be coaching somewhere in the city."

Josh Newkirk: Switching up to Michigan, have you been paying attention to the team lately? Also, what are your thoughts on coach Brady Hoke and the job he has done the past two seasons?

Larry Foote: "It's building. It's starting up front. He's the man that knows the game. You can't win, if you don't have the big guys up front. He had a great class this past year with the offensive lineman. The defensive line is getting stacked up. It's starting from where it counts."

Josh Newkirk: You're paying attention a little bit to the recruiting?

Larry Foote: "Absolutely!"

Josh Newkirk: So, you're noticing that Hoke and coach Greg Mattison are doing work? Even though coach Mattison used to coach against you with the Baltimore Ravens, are you noticing that Mattison is bring back that traditional Michigan defense back to Ann Arbor?

Larry Foote: "I mean, he set the foundation in the 90s with the defense before he left. Mattison is a great coach. He is one of the greatest coaches in the country. He is doing it the right way. It's only a matter of time. The other part of it, is guys just need to jump into the program with both feet and start developing like they should. (They should be) living up to the blue chip or whatever ranking they've been getting now. Guys just need to start developing."

Josh Newkirk: Was it tough for you watching the team struggles through the Rich Rodriguez years? Obviously, it wasn't the Michigan team you were used to seeing on the field?"

Larry Foote: "Anytime you're losing to (Michigan) State or Ohio State, that's just depressing and terrible. I liked Rich Rod personally. I think he needed better coaches with him. But that philosophy wasn't working in the Big Ten. That's just the way it is. But I'm excite what Hoke is doing and hopefully will beat (Michigan) State and Ohio State this year."

Josh Newkirk: What do you think about Hoke's comments on Notre Dame "chickening out" on the rivalry?

Larry Foote: "It's true! It's true! How can you keep Michigan State and Purdue, but not Michigan? Why would you want to do that? It's from a competition standpoint, why would you want your program to play Purdue and not Michigan, if you had a choice?"

Josh Newkirk: Since Hoke has come to Ann Arbor, he has called Ohio State—"Ohio"—What do former players in the NFL think of this?

Larry Foote: "I call them Suckeyes. I call them a whole bunch of names."

Josh Newkirk: Is there a whole bunch of banter between former OSU and Michigan players in the league?

Larry Foote: "Absolutely! Especially in the locker room. We got a couple Ohio State guys. The only Buckeye that I ever liked is Dick LeBeau. He gives it to me all the time. When the big games come up (Steelers coach,)Mike Tomlin will highlight it that Saturday night (with a) speech before we play our game on Sunday. It's a lot of trash talking. A lot of money gets exchanged, pushups, dinners, all types of stuff."

Josh Newkirk: What are you expectations of Michigan going forward this season?

Larry Foote: "Well, young guys need to step up. (Devin Gardner) is one of them I am talking about. He needs to step up. He needs to own his position. He needs to be the man. If he don't do it, then it's only so far we can go. I don't care what kind of lineman or guys are around him. He took some steps (last season.) He showed some signs for me to be excited this year. But we all know quarterback will take you. So hopefully he is doing his stuff this off-season to be the man."

Josh Newkirk: What about Michigan's linebackers, is there anyone that sticks out to you?

Larry Foote: "James Ross, he was a (Detroit little league) West side Cub, he is one of my young protégés. I have known him since he was knee high. I'm excited about lot of guys. It was a big blow when Jake Ryan got hurt. He was showing signs like he can be an NFL player. That's going to be a big blow. But we got young Royce Jenkins-Stone. I'm comfortable with our linebackers position."

Josh Newkirk: Lastly, what are your expectations for the Steelers? You guys didn't make the playoffs last year. So what are you guys doing this off-season to get back to where you guys are normally—and that's in playoffs?

Larry Foote: "We're pissed off we didn't make the playoffs. On top of that, our rival won the Super Bowl. I know guys are taking it personally. It's just a whole different mindset to the off-season. I know guys are ready to get back where we need to be."

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