ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Sunday, May 1, 2011

SCSU's Slowley hopes for fast start

NEW HAVEN — Rashaad Slowley has led the Southern Connecticut State football team in rushing each of the last two seasons.

Not bad for a back-up running back.

That success has Slowley eager to start his senior campaign after finally assuming the role of feature back. Slowley even has some lofty numbers in mind.

“I think 1,500 yards sounds about right,” Slowley said before a recent spring practice session. The Owls play their annual spring game on Saturday at Jess Dow Stadium at 10:30 a.m.

Slowley might not see the most work in the spring game as he is battling the effects of a turf toe injury, but he certainly should be 100 percent when Southern kicks off the 2011 season at Central Connecticut State on Sept 3.

“It feels like I have more weight on my shoulders now,” Slowley said. “I was the guy who’d come in if something happened to the starter before. Now I have to be more of a leader and I have a lot to prove.”

Slowley has patiently bided his time waiting to assume the role of No. 1 back for Southern. As a sophomore he gained 849 yards and scored six touchdowns playing behind both Jarom Freeman and John Wiechman. Last season he again led the team with 885 yards and 10 touchdowns playing second fiddle to Wiechman (791 yards).

While both Freeman and Wiechman earned All-American status in their illustrious careers, Slowley has always been the promising heir apparent.

It is now time to take the throne.

“I learned so much from Jarom and Wiechman,” Slowley said. “I wouldn’t be the player that I am without them. It’s one thing to learn from the coaches but when they came out of the game they would always tell me what to look for and what to do. Continued...

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“They always helped me.”

Now the pupil is ready to become the teacher.

“I’m ready to lead this team now, by example,” Slowley said. “If you look at the numbers I’ve had the past couple of years, I’ve split time and we’ve gained about 1,500 yards. If I get a lot of those touches I can get that much myself.”

Slowley said that splitting series at back certainly helped make him fresher, but there were times he felt he could have done more.

“There’s always times when you want it more, especially when you’re in the zone,” he said. “I’d break an 80-yard run and the next series I’m out and I want to be in,” he said. “But it’s a team thing and as long as the job is getting done I’m fine with it — and I’m not sure I know too many systems that work with just one back. The two-back system is definitely a good system to have. You’re definitely a lot fresher.”

SCSU coach Rich Cavanaugh implemented the running back-by-committee routine the past few seasons, rotating the hot hand among his three talented backs. Cavanaugh said he doesn’t expect that to be the case this year.

“Rashaad’s certainly contributed the last two years,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s time for him to step up and be the man, play in and play out. He’s got the edge and he’s going to carry the load.”

Slowley looks like the entire package. While Freeman was a blazer and Wiechman possessed bullish power, Slowley, a 6-foot, 205-pounder, can do it all. He scored four touchdowns last season on runs of over 25 yards and scored in seven different contests, helping Southern go 6-4 and earn a share of the Northeast-10 Conference title.

But that isn’t good enough for Slowley.

“Last year was a disappointment,” he said. “I know that we probably won’t be the favorite to win the conference title this year, but I feel we should be. We know what it’s going to take. Continued...

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“The past couple of years we’ve started out slow and then had to string wins together. We know how important it is to get off to a good start this year.”

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