Running back Steve Slaton has found himself back in professional football, but this time, he’s taken his talents to the CFL. Earlier today, the Toronto Argonauts officially announced that Slaton has been signed to a contract as an import running back.
To make room for Slaton on the roster, the Argos released import running back Tristan Davis.
Slaton, the 89th overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, previously spent a four-year stint playing ball south of the border with the Houston Texans. During his rookie campaign with Houston, Slaton broke what was the single-season rushing record (1,282 yards.) He also set the single-game rushing mark (156 yards.)
Slaton was later used by the Texans as their main kick returner in 2010, before getting released by the team in the 2011 offseason. After, Slaton’s fate as a professional football player was uncertain.
On September 28, 2011, Slaton was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins. He ultimately wound up playing in just three games, with only 17 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns, a far cry from his nine-touchdown performance in his first year back in ’08.
In September of 2012, Slaton got cut by Miami and later worked out for the Chicago Bears in the wake of Matt Forte’s injury. He wound up being unsigned in favor of Khalil Bell. The Detroit Lions also made a play for Slaton, but nothing materialized.
Slaton’s big splash came in college football as a member of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
At WVU, Slaton set, and still holds, the records for career rushing touchdowns (50), total touchdowns (55), single-game rushing touchdowns (6, October 15, 2005 vs. Louisville,) single-season rushing yards (1,744), single-season total yards (2,104), along with being near the top of the record books in scores of other categories.
Also during his college career, Slaton took the MVP honors at the 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl while also being named 2005 Big East Freshman of the Year. He had 4,728 all-purpose yards for the ‘Eers which saw the team earn two Bowl Championship Series appearances in his three years.
He also had quarterback Pat White, now with the Edmonton Eskimos, as his teammate. If you followed Mountaineers football at any point from 2005 to 2007, you know how explosive a tandem they were, and I don’t need to tell you how dynamite they were.
His pro career stats were less than spectacular: 1,896 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 13 touchdowns. That’s a good season for most NFL running backs. Fact of the matter is, for most of the time that Slaton was with the Texans, they had no offensive line of which to speak.
With the Argos signing Slaton, this creates some competition in training camp this year. Slaton is expected to battle Chad Kackert for the starting job. Kackert, who gained just 440 yards for Toronto in 2013, needs to step his game up or risk losing his job to Slaton.
Ideally, the Argos would want to have Kackert and Slaton split the rushing duties this coming year. If both men have a strong camp, they could emerge as an explosive tandem in the CFL in 2014.
In all honesty, the wider field in the CFL is advantageous to Slaton’s cause. He can produce rushing numbers more akin to his collegiate career. He could be the new Michael “Pinball” Clemons if he plays his cards right.