Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome Wildcats to day 53 in our neverending march to game day against North Dakota State (and by neverending, I really mean “this thing ends in 53 days when the team kicks off the 2013 football season at Bill Snyder Stadium on August 30”). With 53 days left, we turn our attention to the player that will don #53 every Saturday, Blake Slaughter.
First things first, Slaughter goes on the The Jug’s All-Name team along with Cody Whitehair, Boston Stiverson, and two more two-be-named players. The name just screams intimidation. Second of all, he’s ready to
slaughter some opponents
(sorry – too cheesy, even for this tacky website) own the middle of the field while filling the shoes of outgoing, do-everything MLB Arthur Brown.
Slaughter saw limited action as a freshman but busted through his sophomore season as injuries across the unit thrust him into the spotlight and he played in 12 games, recording 47 tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for loss. However, his climbing star fell back to earth when Arthur Brown arrived on campus. After sitting out a year following transfer, Brown dominated the middle linebacker spot in 2011 while Slaughter saw limited duty through 12 games, recording just one solo and one assisted tackle.
In 2012 Slaughter undertook a sacrifice that could prove to dramatically alter the course of this year’s season. Rather than serve as Brown’s backup during both players’ senior years, Slaughter agreed to redshirt (he hadn’t used his yet). With a lot of talent to give and little depth returning in 2013, Slaughter decided this would be position the team for success both years and purportedly spearheaded the decision, to which Snyder agreed.
There’s reason to believe success will be there for Slaughter. Although shorter than ideal, he’s fast just enough to get to ball carriers, and definitely strong enough to bring them down. He was a three-star recruit according to Rivals, where he was rated the 31st best inside linebacker in the nation and 98th best player in the state of Texas. Plus he’s smart (his high school GPA was 4.3), and had the advantage of spending a year dissecting offenses and learning every intricacy of both the defense and his opponents without the burden worrying about playing.
Slaughter will start alongside fellow senior linebacker Tre Walker as the two both bring different perspectives to returning with something to prove. While Walker’s season season was ended halfway through 2012 with a knee injury, Slaughter finally has the opportunity to step out of Brown’s shadow and prove he belongs on the field not because of injuries and depth, but because he deserves to be there.
To work backward in the countdown, visit day 54, where we examine Ryan Doerr’s punting successes.