A story of destiny, collegiate stardom, and newfound passions

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Three straight 11-win seasons. Two of the best college football athletes of all time. One in every of — if not the — finest backfields within the historical past of the game. The Pat White and Steve Slaton Present blazed tv units nationwide from 2005-2007. For a lot of, that’s the place the collection ended, as White and Slaton’s skilled spin-offs got here and went with little fanfare. However life past the sphere has led them to new passions and new arenas to dominate.

Pat White and Steve Slaton: The West Virginia duo that nearly didn’t occur

Captain America and Iron Man. Ric Aptitude and Ricky Steamboat. Peanut butter and jelly. What do all well-known duos have in widespread? Chemistry. Pat White and Steve Slaton have that in spades. It’s simple to see on their podcast, “The Burning Couch.” However earlier than they have been 36-year-olds taking pictures the breeze of their free time, White and Slaton have been essentially the most well-known duo in school soccer historical past.

Born in Daphne, Alabama, White was raised to be a winner. From a younger age, he dreamt of being the subsequent Rod Woodson, headhunting from his security place. However as soon as highschool got here, and all the opposite children grew greater, White realized being the subsequent Woodson in all probability wasn’t within the playing cards.

So, he wanted to channel his bodily capability elsewhere. Thus, Pat White the offensive catalyst was born. As a senior, White led Daphne Excessive College to 14 straight wins earlier than falling 22-17 within the state finals. He threw for 1,488 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season, dashing for a further 1,905 yards and 31 scores. His efficiency garnered all-state recognition and noticed him place third within the Alabama Mr. Soccer voting.

Nevertheless, White’s athletic presents prolonged past the soccer discipline. On the baseball diamond, White pitched and performed outfield, serving to Daphne safe two state championships. He wasn’t simply the product of his workforce, both, because the Anaheim Angels chosen White within the fourth spherical of the 2004 MLB Draft. But, White handed up a six-figure wage with the Angels to additional his soccer profession.

White acquired affords from Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt. Though he initially dedicated to LSU as a large receiver, West Virginia provided him the chance to remain at quarterback — a possibility he couldn’t go up.

Slaton’s off-field development mirrors on-field pace

In the meantime, on the East Coast, Slaton grew up the best way he would later play — quick. The youngest of six siblings (by a minimal of six years and a most of 20), Slaton had no scarcity of familial inspiration to attract from. That amplified when his eldest sister Natalie succumbed to leukemia when he was in fifth grade.

Slaton carried his sister with him as he juked, spun, and out-ran varsity defenders as a freshman at Conwell-Egan Catholic Excessive College. 4 years later, he was a four-time all-conference honoree, two-time all-state first-teamer, and even starred on the monitor, recording the sixth-best highschool lengthy leap within the nation. You’d assume Slaton was a sought-after recruit with 6,002 profession dashing yards and 73 touchdowns to his title. However his stage of competitors restricted the quantity of scouting within the space.

Affords from North Carolina and Rutgers sat on the desk, however Slaton dedicated to Maryland early in his senior season. Not lengthy after, he heard from a reporter that his scholarship had been revoked. He desperately tried to get in contact together with his recruiter, James Franklin — sure, present Penn State head coach James Franklin — however didn’t hear again for weeks.

As soon as Slaton lastly spoke with Franklin, he confirmed the information: Maryland overrecruited at working again and reneged on his scholarship. His frustrations with Maryland was a vendetta and a drive to show them improper. Just one factor: He wanted a brand new collegiate residence to take action.

At this level, many colleges he had contact with crammed their RB rooms. All that was left have been faculties who wished Slaton to change to the defensive facet of the ball — all apart from one. West Virginia swooped in late within the course of and handed Slaton the chance to play on a scholarship at his most well-liked place — simply as they did with White a yr prior.

From backup freshmen to superstars

White and Slaton traveled two windy roads however arrived on the identical vacation spot: Morgantown. As Slaton stepped off the airplane, White already had a redshirt season underneath his belt.

With White splitting snaps at QB, and Slaton the fourth-string RB, the Mountaineers rode to a 4-0 begin. However in an eventual loss to Virginia Tech, Slaton obtained his first break; and he ran with it. He took 11 carries for a team-leading 90 yards. That was sufficient for head coach Wealthy Rodriguez to insert Slaton into the beginning lineup the next week towards Rutgers.

Slaton popped off for 139 yards and a rating, cementing himself because the chief of the backfield. Nevertheless, life wasn’t as excessive and mighty within the QB room. Splitting reps took a toll on White and examined his love for the game. After the Rutgers sport, he expressed his want to take off the helmet and pads in favor of a baseball glove. However his father made him a deal: “You present up day by day and act like you’re the starter. On the finish of the week, in case you nonetheless really feel the identical method, I’ll convey your glove.”

It’s Week 7. New Huge East member Louisville is on the town. The scoreboard reads 24-7, with 11:20 remaining within the fourth quarter. Starter Adam Bednarik lays on the turf as trainers are inclined to his ankle. Issues are trying bleak for the Mountaineers. However out of darkness comes gentle, and it didn’t get a lot brighter in Milan Puskar Stadium than that fateful night time.

The White and Slaton Present was born

White donned his helmet, took warm-up snaps together with his heart, and jogged onto the sphere. Expectations have been low. Followers had begun leaving the stadium. Bobby Petrino and Co. felt the sport was of their arms. However White and Slaton have been unfazed; all they wanted was a shot. And like a sniper perched in his nest with sights on the goal, they didn’t miss.

WVU scored 17 unanswered factors and in the end gained a triple-overtime thriller, 46-44. Within the course of, Slaton set a Huge East document with six whole touchdowns. And it’s protected to say White wasn’t going to the touch a baseball glove any time quickly.

White and Slaton powered the Mountaineers to 4 straight victories, the second Huge East title at school historical past, and outscored their opponents 156 to 39. They usually weren’t finished. West Virginia matched up towards SEC champion Georgia within the Sugar Bowl, WVU’s first BCS bowl sport.

After scoring 21 factors within the first quarter, the Mountaineers held on to upset the Bulldogs, 38-35. White was environment friendly, however Slaton carried the offense, gutting Georgia’s protection for 204 yards and three scores. Slaton earned MVP, and his dashing yards set the Sugar Bowl document and have been the second-most in a BCS contest. But, Slaton wasn’t the one one setting data.

White ended the yr with 952 dashing yards, the second-most all-time amongst WVU freshmen and essentially the most by a Huge East QB. Regardless of the moment success, the 2005 season was solely the start of the White and Slaton period.

Credit score: WVU Athletics

High Gun: West Virginia

White and Slaton pushed Rodriguez’s spread-option offense to Mach 10. The fixed menace of White taking off from the pocket restricted what defenses may do on the again finish. And whereas he was by no means essentially the most prolific passer, White had no problem taking the highest off. It additionally helped having a receiver like Darius Reynaud on the skin, a hardnosed fullback paving the best way in Owen Schmitt, and finally one other electrical runner in Noel Devine — proprietor of one of the disrespectful highlight reels you’ll ever see.

White and Slaton’s soul-snatching skills translated to the NCAA Soccer online game collection as effectively. They acquired 90+ rankings annually and made utilizing WVU a cheat code, since stopping the offense was virtually unattainable — mirroring its real-life counterpart.

Solely damaged ankles, clipboards, and spirits remained when the mud settled on White and Slaton’s tenure at West Virginia. They rattled off back-to-back-to-back 11-win campaigns, capping every off with bowl victories.

However there may be one sport that lives infamously within the minds of WVU followers. In 2007, the Mountaineers raced to a 10-1 document and have been the No. 2 workforce within the nation. They have been one win away from making their second-ever nationwide championship look. All that stood of their method was a 4-7 Pitt squad who entered the a hundredth installment of the “Yard Brawl” as 28-point street underdogs.

110. That’s what number of yards White and Slaton produced … mixed. Pitt left Morgantown with a 13-9 victory, not solely tanking West Virginia’s odds of creating it to the natty however marking the tip of the perfect QB/RB pairing in school soccer historical past.

Lone ranger season

Slaton concluded his West Virginia profession with 4,728 whole yards, 55 whole touchdowns, and quite a few college and convention data. He parlayed his success right into a third-round choice by the Houston Texans within the 2008 NFL Draft.

However White had one other season in him. The 2-time Huge East Offensive Participant of the Yr took a step again together with his working mate gone and a brand new head coach in place. However, he led the Mountaineers to a 9-4 document and a Belk Bowl win over North Carolina.

With a 42-9 document, 4 bowl victories, 10,529 whole yards, and 103 whole touchdowns, it’s protected to say White belongs on the CFB Mount Rushmore. Although he etched his title into the FBS document books with 4,480 profession dashing yards as a QB, White by no means completed larger than sixth within the Heisman Trophy voting and was by no means an All-American.

In consequence, he isn’t eligible for the Faculty Soccer Corridor of Fame. However in 2018, West Virginia welcomed their esteemed dynamic duo again to campus, enshrining them into their Sports activities Corridor of Fame.

Previous to the 2009 NFL Draft, White competed within the Senior Bowl and earned the sport’s MVP. It was a little bit of a surreal expertise for the Daphne native, as he would make the short 15-minute journey to Cell to look at among the high NFL draft prospects carry out annually as a child. Now, it was his flip to observe of their footsteps — in addition to Slaton’s — into the league.

Slaton’s one-year surprise in Houston

At this level, Slaton was coming off a 1,282-rushing-yard marketing campaign, most amongst rookies within the 2008 season and a Texans franchise document. However as a substitute of being the beginning of a promising professional profession, it was already nearing the tip.

Slaton bulked up for his second season, hovering round 215 kilos (20 kilos over his rookie yr). The load acquire appeared to zap a few of his athleticism, and he later suffered shoulder and neck accidents that led to seven fumbles and a spot on the injured reserve.

The neck damage, particularly, was worse than first imagined. It ultimatly required a cervical fusion, and Slaton by no means reached the heights of his rookie marketing campaign once more.

“Should you can’t really feel your hand in there, you may’t squeeze (the ball) as exhausting as you need to,” Slaton mentioned after the 2009 season. “I attempted to downplay it, but it surely got here to some extent the place I needed to get surgical procedure.”

Slaton performed sparingly in 2010, and Houston waived him in September 2011. The Dolphins signed him shortly after, however they despatched Slaton packing once more a yr later. A couple of groups confirmed curiosity and labored him out to no avail. And similar to that, Slaton’s NFL profession was over … however not his skilled soccer profession.

In 2014, Slaton signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Enjoying in 12 video games (six begins), he registered 510 dashing yards, one dashing landing, 46 receptions, 388 receiving yards, 4 receiving TDs, and 71 kick return yards. For being out of the sport for 2 years, it was fairly a powerful stat line.

White’s profession carousel

The opposite half of the dynamic duo shared an analogous roadmap. The Wildcat offense took the league by storm within the late 2000s, and Dolphins head coach Invoice Parcells used it to upset the Patriots in 2008. He envisioned White working the formation and made him the fourth QB off the board with the forty fourth decide within the 2009 NFL Draft.

Nevertheless, White didn’t win the beginning QB battle, and the Wildcat formation Parcells praised in the end gave a knockout blow to White’s Miami profession.

White wakened together with his face within the filth and employees round him. Rewind 30 seconds, and he’s in shotgun from the Wildcat towards the Steelers. HIKE. The ball snaps to him. He takes a large angle up the left sideline and will get tripped up from behind. However as his momentum carries him ahead and towards the bottom, in comes Ike Taylor. The helmet-to-helmet blow knocked White unconscious and compelled him to go away the sport on a stretcher.

The subsequent day, White was launched from the hospital and drove himself to apply. His willingness to put his physique on the road for the Dolphins didn’t carry a lot weight, as they waived him earlier than the subsequent season. In 2011, Parcells said, “He simply wasn’t a prototypical quarterback decide. He was an ideal school participant, and we let that coloration our judgment.”

At present, White is the prototypical quarterback decide. Whereas Tom Brady and Matt Ryan are nonetheless slinging, they’re the final of a dying breed. Practically each different beginning QB can not less than hold performs alive a few seconds longer with their legs. White might not have the identical dynamic arm as Lamar Jackson, however his dashing capability isn’t far off. And regardless of all of the current social media discuss, Jackson is undoubtedly a top-10 QB within the NFL — all the time has been.

After his launch from Miami, White known as his agent and mentioned he didn’t need to play within the NFL anymore. Soccer broke his coronary heart, as did a current breakup. However what devasted White essentially the most was his lack of perception in himself. His subsequent few skilled years have been tumultuous, as he entertained a myriad of profession adjustments.

  • 2010: MLB (Kansas Metropolis Royals)
  • 2011: United Soccer League (Virginia Destroyers)
  • 2012: Ready to run for Congress, auditioned for performing roles
  • 2013: NFL (Washington Commanders), MLB (Miami Marlins)
  • 2014: CFL (Edmonton Elks)

The place are Pat White and Steve Slaton now?

White and Slaton rose to prominence collectively, and fittingly, they retired from skilled soccer the identical yr (2015). However that’s not the place their journeys finish. Outdoors of sharing a podcast, White and Slaton have discovered new passions.

Following his retirement, Slaton took up cooking and enrolled in culinary college — an acceptable pivot for a participant well-known for roasting defenses on the gridiron. He labored for Houston chef Chris Shepherd at his restaurant “Underbelly” and is now a non-public chef and kitchen marketing consultant.

“Cooking has been one thing that may be a huge a part of my life for a very long time,” Slaton said. “I cooked even in school for my roommates. My mother and father additionally used to personal a catering firm.”

As for White, he averted teaching for years because of his expertise within the NFL, however former WVU teammate Ryan Stancheck wouldn’t let him stroll away without end. White lastly transitioned to teaching in 2018, becoming a member of Alcorn State because the quarterbacks coach.

He spent two seasons there earlier than a yr because the working backs coach at USF and one other because the QBs coach at Alabama State. Presently, White is the passing sport coordinator and QBs coach at Campbell, utilizing his expertise as a premier dual-threat signal-caller to his benefit. Moreover, White and his brother Bo Jr. function an NFL-backed flag soccer league (Jap Shore Flag) for youth in Alabama.

Of the numerous labels White and Slaton have worn over time, one holds extra gravity than the remainder: Dad. Setting data got here naturally for the dynamic duo. Now, they’re setting examples for his or her kids to observe.

James Fragoza is a Author and Information Editor at Professional Soccer Community. You’ll be able to learn his other work here and observe him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.




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