PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Editor
Southern football has enjoyed a lot of talent at the running back position in past years.
During the 2012 season, there will be a new running back trying to follow in those footsteps. However, it might be hard to replace Rashaad Slowley.
The accolades for Slowley piled up each and every day with the culmination being during the 2011 season.
The Southern senior running back from Mount Vernon, NY had one of the best seasons in school history. His accomplishments won him many awards and gained him much deserved respect around the country.
“We had a great year,” Slowley said. “We had a lot of seniors who showed leadership on and off of the field. The offense just executed. The offensive line did a great job blocking and gave me running room.”
His honors included being named an All-American by four separate organizations, the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Most Valuable Player and a finalist for the 2011 Harlon Hill Award as the Division II College Football Player of the Year.
Slowley finished the year with 274 carries for 1,584 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns, also 21 catches for 233 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Slowley set a new single-season record for touchdowns with 29 and a new SCSU single-game record with six touchdowns in a win over St. Anselm.
“It was a credit to him [and his season],” said SCSU head coach Rich Cavanaugh, in his 27th season with the Owls. “Every defense we played against—for them to be successful—they needed to stop Rashaad Slowley. It is not an easy thing.”
“He played just phenomenal,” SCSU offensive coordinator Tom Godek said. “What a way to end his career here. He carried this whole season. We tried to stay balanced. He does well off of the play-action and making catches off of the screen on first down.”
This season the Owls had one of the best offenses in Division II and in the Northeast-10 Conference with Slowley as one of the main attractions along with quarterback Kevin Lynch and receivers Willie Epps and Andre Privott.
Southern finished the 2011 season with an overall record of 7-3 and 6-2 in the Northeast-10 Conference, marking the 11th consecutive winning season for the Owls. The Owls just missed out on the NCAA Division II football tournament after losing the season finale at home to Merrimack, 28-27.
“We had good team chemistry,” Slowley said. “There was never tension. We were motivated and we prepared for a long week of practice. We expected so many big things and we wanted to get to the tournament. It came down to the last game and we did not finish.”
Slowley finished eighth in the voting for the Harlon Hill award, but he surely left his mark and represented the SCSU history well.
“I am happy for Rashaad that his hard work paid off and he got recognition,” Cavanaugh said. “It is a credit to him and his teammates. The Harlon Hill Award is the equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. I think he is certainly one of the best in the nation.”
“It is obviously great for Southern in general,” Godek said. “Obviously, also for the football program, the athletic department and the teammates the type of player that came through here. Only a small percentage get down to the final selections.”
Cavanaugh said Slowley was a top prospect coming out of high school at Archbishop Stepinac (NY).
“He was our No. 1 choice at running back,” he said. “He had a change of heart and fortunately came here. He turned into the player he looked like, and he performed at a high level. He certainly lived up to expectations.”
“We felt we could run with success and it would open other phases of our offense. We were more run-to-throw than a throw-to-run. We forced the defense to concentrate on the run, and we were still able to run.”
Slowley finished his career ranked No. 2 all-time at SCSU in rushing yards (3,460), touchdowns (45) and points (272). He also finished the year ranked No. 3 in all levels of NCAA college football in scoring (29 touchdowns and 174 total points).
“Southern has an excellent football tradition and it was not too far from home,” Slowley said. “Coming in right out of high school, I played right away. As a senior, I realized that I needed the role to guide me. It was my turn to step up.”
Slowley is currently still completing his degree in sports management from Southern and has many dreams for that as well.
“I have two more semesters and an internship left,” he said. “If anything and I am not playing, I want to be involved in sports as an agent, athletic director or event planning with the sport that I love.”
With the Super Bowl this Sunday, Slowley said he was rooting for the Baltimore Ravens and his friend, Ravens running back Ray Rice.
“I went to the Patriots game (AFC Championship),” he said. “I am anti-Pats. I guess I want the Giants since I am from New York.”
Slowley is currently training for possible opportunities at upcoming NFL Pro Days in the coming months.
“I have been training with potential prospects who will probably get picked in the first round,” he said. “I am getting ready for pro day. It is a long process; you need to produce and we will see what happens. I definitely want to improv