Al Martin, Mike Rude, John Ivlow and Kerry Martin set as guest speakers
Last updated on June 2, 2011
John Steger was hired on Jan. 6, 2009 and enters his second season as SIU's inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. He adds 22 years of experience as a defensive coordinator to the Saluki staff.
In his first year at SIU, Steger mentored linebacker Stephen Franklin, who led the team with 76 tackles and was a second team All-MVFC selection. Fellow inside linebacker, Joe Okon, was second on the team with 71 tackles and he and Franklin combined for 12 tackles for a loss.
Steger's linebackers were instrumental in leading the Saluki defense that led the MVFC in total defense in 2010, giving up just 332.1 yards per game.
His special teams units made a number of big plays throughout the year, most notably two blocked punts that were returned for touchdowns and Steve Strother's 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Southeast Missouri State. Additionally, Steger guided true freshman punter Austin Pucylowski to the MVFC All-Newcomer team, as Pucylowski averaged 39.8 yards on 64 punts with no touchbacks.
Prior to joining the Saluki staff, Steger spent 11 seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth and led the Bulldogs to four playoff appearances and the 2008 NCAA Division II National Championship. UMD posted an 86-42 (.672) record with eight winning seasons and four conference championships in Steger's time in Duluth.
Under Steger's skillful watch, UMD's defensive units were constantly ranked among the nations best. In 2009, when he led the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record and the quarterfinals of the playoffs, Duluth ranked in the top five nationally in rushing defense (69.1 ypg) and total defense (251.0) while finishing second in scoring defense by only allowing 12.5 points per game.
During the run to the 2008 National Championship, his defense allowed the third fewest points per game and total yards with the second fewest rushing yards per contest in the NCAA Division II ranks. For his success guiding his defensive unit, Steger was named a finalist for the 2008 footballscoop.com NCAA II Coordinator of the Year Award.
Steger's student-athletes have been the direct beneficiaries of his tutelage, as 11 of his defensive players were named to the All-NSIC North Division first team in the past two years. Junior inside linebacker Robbie Aurich was named the 2009 NCC North Division Defensive Player of the Year and the Daktronics Super Regional 3 Defensive Player of the Year. He was a first team AFCA All-American this past year. Russ Rabe also earned All-America status under Steger in 2004, when the defensive end ranked third among NCAA II players in quarterback sacks.
Steger joined the UMD staff in 1999 after being employed the previous 11 years as a defensive coordinator at two NCAA Division III schools. He served a seven-season stint at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (1992-98) and spent four years at Sul Ross State (1988-91). Steger's first coaching job was at Sol Ross State where he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach.
A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Steger started a pair of seasons at linebacker while attending Loras College (Iowa) and co-captained the Duhawks as a senior in 1984. He lettered three times in two sports -- football and track (sprinter) -- at Dubuque's Wahlert High School and landed All-Mississippi Valley Conference honors following his final prep football season.
Steger, 47, received a B.A. degree in both physical education and business from Loras College in 1985 and a master's degree in education from Sul Ross State three years later.
Steger and his wife, Barbara, reside in Murphysboro.