“Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional athlete,” said Marauders inside linebacker Reggie Slaton. “I had the occasional thought of maybe being a cop or firefighter but the infatuation with being able to do what I love for a career took over being able to get paid for it would just be a bonus.”
However, for at least a few years, Reggie took a break from football.
“Reggie started playing football at the age of 5,” said Reggie’s mom, Carla. “He played up until the 5th grade, when he took some time off to sing with Keystone State Boy choir.”
That’s right, 6’2”, 220 pound Reggie Slaton, two time Marauder captain who recorded a whopping 104 tackles, good for 4th in the PSAC East last season, quit football for a boy’s choir.
Not the typical path for someone looking to break into the NFL.
“Ah, she told you about that,” said Reggie with a smile. Luckily for the Marauders, Reggie’s singing career didn’t pan out, so come time for high school it was back to football for Reggie.
Now, almost two decades after he starting playing, Reggie’s dream of getting paid to play football could quickly be turning into a reality.
To say that he is looking to beat the odds might be undershooting it.
Beating the odds
Getting admitted to Stanford University isn’t exactly what you may call “easy.” In fact, one may go so far as to say it is “unfathomably difficult.” Stanford sports the lowest acceptance rate of any university in the United States, accepting just 5.9 percent of applicants annually, according to US News and World Report.
Compared to playing in the NFL, getting admitted to Stanford is a leisurely stroll in the park.
According to Forbes, under two percent of college football players will wind up going pro one day.
The last Marauder to make it to the NFL was WR Dondre Gilliam, who caught six passes for the Chargers in 2003.
However, according to those most familiar with him, Reggie Slaton has a shot of breaking down that barrier.
“Always getting the job done”
“I knew based upon his talent, size and speed that he would have a shot at the next level,” said linebackers coach George Love. “I think after his junior year it was when he took it to the next level.”
“Reggie has had some interest from both the NFL and CFL,” said head coach Greg Breitbach. “He’s looking for an opportunity to test the waters.”
Regardless of who you talk to, coaches, teammates, friends or family, one aspect of Slaton’s character never fails to be mentioned.
“Effort is something you can count on with Reggie,” said Breitbach. “He’s going to always be giving his best.”
“He always possessed a great work ethic and I think that carried him into his senior year,” said Love. “He works hard at his craft by watching more film, doing more reps in the weight room, being first and last to and from practice.”
“Perseverance is one of Reggie’s best traits because no matter what happens he always finds a way to get the job done,” said teammate Joey Pham.
A long line of success
In 2008, West Virginia standout runningback Steve Slaton broke onto the NFL scene with 1,282 yards and nine rushing touchdowns for the Houston Texans.
His nephew Reggie was a sophomore linebacker at Bensalem High School in Pennsylvania with hopes of a career in football.
Growing up, Reggie saw his uncle as a role model, attending his high school games as he ran circles around defenders at Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Philadelphia.
Despite a successful NFL career, Steve’s fame didn’t get in the way of his bond with his nephew.
“Only being six years older than him, it was more of a big brother relationship,” said Steve.
As Reggie’s high school graduation grew closer, Steve took on the role of mentor in Reggie’s life.
“Steve had a huge impact in his preparation for college and being a college athlete,” said Reggie’s mother. “Steve taught him how to be respectful and humble, to always be a team player and a leader.”
From student to leader
Once he arrived at Millersville in the fall of 2011, Reggie didn’t hesitate to embrace his role as a team leader. Starting at defensive end, Reggie transitioned to linebacker in 2013. That same year, Reggie was named a team captain, a role he assumed again in 2014.
Despite Millersville’s underwhelming 1-10 record, Slaton exploded for 104 tackles, catching the eyes of teammates, coaches and scouts.
Now, moving closer toward his official graduation in May (he walked in December), Reggie has his sights set on the next level.
After showcasing his talent at the National Bowl Game in Miami last December, Reggie received feedback and interest from scouts from both the CFL and NFL—primarily the St. Louis Rams.
“Being drafted would be a dream come true,” said Slaton. “But honestly I just want an opportunity to show the NFL what I can do.”
If his dream does come true, the list of people Reggie has to thank is quite extensive.
“I have to thank God first and foremost for blessing me with the talent and skills to play this great game,” he said. “My mom, dad, brothers Mike and Scotty and my entire family for being my biggest support system and believing in me and pushing me to be great. My fiancé Erin always supported me by coming to every game rain, snow or shine and staying to the end even when we lost. Coach Breitbach and Coach Love for believing in me and Millersville University for allowing me to play football.”
Last but certainly not least, Reggie thanked everything his uncle Steve has done for him.
“He helped me become the man I am today,” he said. “I hope I am making him proud.”
If the words of his peers and Reggie’s work on and off the football field are any indication, he shouldn’t have to worry about anyone being anything but proud.