Slate has been a rock for Pirates

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By Staff
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Zack Slate stood shirtless near the entrance to the Cliff Moore Practice Facility, arms folded, sweat beads clinging to his forehead.
With one turn, Slate shows off the ink that encompasses his chiseled back. They are symbols that Slate, a defensive end with the East Carolina Pirates, holds near and dear to his heart.
That sums up Slate, a 6-5, 222-pounder from Melbourne, Fla., pretty accurately. Slate isn’t afraid of flying around the field, seeking out quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers like prey.
Once Slate gets his claws into somebody, there’s no letting go.
Slate, who also sports tattoos symbolizing “truth” and “brotherhood,” has eight tackles two games into the season. That includes 3.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks — one in each game. The sack total has already surpassed his career total (1.5) entering the season.
Slate said he and his brethren have made a conscious effort to take down the opposing signal-caller more this season.
Zack and his teammates will get another chance when they play host to Southern Miss in the Conference USA opener this Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. It should be the third straight emotional game for ECU (1-1).
After opening the season at Virginia Tech to face the Hokies in the first major sporting event since the tragic shootings in April, the Pirates followed that with a rivalry game against the North Carolina Tar Heels. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles will be looking for a little revenge against the Pirates after falling in Hattiesburg last year.
ECU coach Skip Holtz knows his defense will have to have to play a stellar game. He’s thrilled that Slate will on his side.
C.J. Wilson, a fellow defensive end and a roommate, said Slate is just as good a person as he is a player.
Slate, who had 24 tackles last season, attributes his success to hard work on the practice field.
Slate would love to have the chance to play on Sundays as well. Of course, he wouldn’t know many, if any, of his teammates. Slate isn’t exactly a fan of the NFL.
Having said that, Slate wants his crack at playing in the league.
Slate already knows what an influence he can have on a young fan.
Who knew? This soaring hawk can be pretty grounded.