IOWA CITY – Greg Mabin might not have been on the field this spring, but the Iowa cornerback’s mind was in the middle of the action as the Hawkeyes worked through offseason practices.
“It allowed me to look at things from a different perspective,’’ said Mabin, preparing for his third season as a starter in the Iowa secondary.
Mabin had the time after undergoing surgery to repair a damaged labrum, the result of a lingering shoulder issue that started with a dislocation during his junior year of high school.
In the years since, the pain would come and go to varying degrees and after Iowa’s Rose Bowl game, Mabin opted to have it operated on.
That kept him in a sling and out of action as this spring.
He kept in shape initially on an exercise bicycle, then returned to running once his shoulder stabilized. In the weeks since, he has been able to return to a normal routine in the weight room.
“It’s going to be 100 percent. I’m way ahead of schedule from what they expected,’’ Mabin said. “It’s like I’ve been telling everyone. This is the best it’s felt since high school.’’
Mabin said the timing seemed to right to have the issue addressed.
“The medical people felt it was something that probably needed to be taken care of and as I’m getting ready for my senior year, I want to go in ready and at 100 percent,’’ Mabin said.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz senses that as well.
“It stinks being on the sidelines and watching your teammates,’’ Ferentz said. “I think he’s anxious to get started. He’s got all the tools. He’s got a good attitude. It’s just a matter of him working to keep improving.’’
Mabin believes he is better prepared to accomplish that in part because of what he was able to do during the spring.
He watched hours of tape.
He spent time watching himself on tape. He spent time watching how others around him play and react.
And, he spent time searching for tendencies in the games of the wide receivers Iowa will face during the upcoming season.
“In this game, you look for any edge you can get, just one little thing that might make a difference,’’ Mabin said.
He believes that difference might be found in the way he has used his time in recent months.
“I feel a lot more confident now from a mental aspect,’’ Mabin said. “I am a lot more confident from a physical aspect because I don’t have to worry about my shoulder doing a certain move and worrying about whether it was going to hold up or not.’’
Mabin expects to be tested.
That’s nothing new. With 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King returning, Mabin knows opposing teams will target his side of the field more rather than throw in the direction of a player honored as the best defensive back in college football last season.
“If I were other teams, I’d throw my way, too,’’ said Mabin, who finished intercepted two passes and broke up eight more a year ago in addition to recording 54 tackles. “I see it as a challenge and that is something I have to be ready to step up. I’m a third-year starter and I know what I can do and what I need to do. It’s time to go out and get it done.’’