We continue our 12 Days Countdown to Kickoff with #10 Steve Slaton.
Hometown: Levittown, PA
Record: 33-5, Bowl Record: 3-0 including two BCS wins
This countdown would be remiss to not include West Virginia’s all-time leading scorer: Steve Slaton. The fact that Steve Slaton made it to West Virginia in the first place is amazing. Coming out of high school, Slaton wanted to play for Maryland and Coach Ralph Friedgen. The Fridge passed on Slaton, who would wind up in Morgantown in 2005. Slaton entered the season as the fourth string running back behind Jason Gwaltney, Jason Colson, and Pernell Williams. To say that Rich Rod overlooked Slaton’s talents would be a tremendous understatement. Slaton was easily the quickest, shiftiest, and toughest rusher of the group. Slaton would not get a chance to shine until the Virginia Tech game where he ran for 90 yards against one of the nation’s best defenses. He would become an instant star two games later, rushing for 6 touchdowns against Louisville. The rest is history. Slaton ran for 1,128 yards and 17 touchdowns in half a freshman season, including a Sugar Bowl record 204 yards rushing and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, Slaton only upped his game, rushing for 1,744 yards and 16 touchdowns. Slaton’s junior season coincided with Noel Devine’s freshman season, taking carries away from Slaton and reducing his statistics marginally. Slaton was still able to amass 1,051 yards and 17 touchdowns. After winning two BCS games in three seasons, Slaton declared for the NFL draft. WVU success during this time is due in large part to Slaton’s rushing ability. Without the threat of Slaton in the zone read rushing offense, Pat White and Owen Schmitt would not have been able to put up the numbers that they did. Slaton’s 55 career touchdowns (50 rushing, 5 receiving) stand as the West Virginia career scoring record. With WVU’s heavy reliance on the pass under Coach Holgorsen, I highly doubt there will be another running back of this caliber in Morgantown for quite some time.
Memorable Game: Many people are probably expecting to see the 2005 Louisville or 2006 Georgia game featured here. While both games are quite impressive, many people forget the tremendous performance he gave during the 2006 Maryland game. Slaton did not get to rush against Maryland as a freshman, so this game marked the first time that he would get the opportunity to show the Fridge the errors of his recruiting strategy. Slaton was focused on embarrassing the Terrapins, and he did just that. Slaton demolished, I mean absolutely pummeled, the Maryland defensive front in the first quarter as he rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns: in the first quarter alone! West Virginia, behind the rushing of Slaton, jumped all over Maryland to lead the game 28-0 after one quarter of play. Slaton and the Mountaineers went on cruise control for the rest of the game, easily beating the Terps 45-24. Slaton finished with 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Competition: This was far and away the toughest selection to make. Marc Bulger is one of the best quarterbacks in school history, having held multiple passing records until Geno Smith broke them all this past season. Bulger is also a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. Some other notables at #10 include Adam Lehnortt, Tony Reda, and Greg Hertzog. Current freshman Jordan Thompson wears #10 and looks like another fantastic receiver in the making.
Teaser: Tomorrow we honor one of the most iconic Mountaineers in the program’s history. This player was an incredible dual threat athlete for WVU and was a major pain to opposing teams.