Given a clean Slate of health

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Zack Slate’s offseason plan was to put on 20 pounds and become a more attractive NFL prospect.
At 6-4, 222-pounds, Slate was the smallest defensive end in Conference-USA last season.
So this winter, the Pirates’ senior figured he bulk up to at least 240 pounds. The extra weight would allow him to hold his ground against the increasingly-larger offensive tackles that pop up in C-USA each season.
But this spring those plans changed. And now Slate is just fighting to get back to last years playing weight.
In March, Slate came down with what he thought was a common cold. He was tired, sluggish and weak. Despite heavy workouts, his weight dropped to 206 pounds. After a few weeks, he still felt rotten and nervous, so he sought medical help.
That’s when he learned that he had Hyperthyroidism, a condition that speeds up the heart, causes anxiety, and results in weight loss and diarrhea.
The ECU star sat out a great deal of the spring season as he began taking medications for the ordeal. Now, he’s back in the weight room, struggling to get back to his 2007 playing weight.
According to East Carolina Strength &Conditioning Director Mike Golden, weight has always been an issue with Slate.
Slate will enter the 2008 season as the owner of the Pirates’ longest starting streak having started 18 consecutive games over the last two years. And he plans to be ready to continue that streak come August 30 when ECU takes on Virginia Tech in Charlotte.
Last season, Slate combined with former Northside star C.J. Wilson to form a strong defensive end duo. While Wilson led the team with seven sacks, Slate had 4.5 sacks and was a terrific run stopper coming up with 49 tackles, including a team-leading 11.5 tackles-for-a-loss.
Together, the duo is expected to lead East Carolina’s defense. Earlier this month, the duo was selected to the All-Conference USA Preseason first team by the league’s head coaches.
With his health problems behind him, Slate believes 2008 is going to be a great year for him and the Pirates.