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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Erik Slater, OLB, Lehigh University

Erik Slater
Erik Slater is a relentless player for Lehigh University’s defense. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Erik Slater
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 230 lbs
  • Position: OLB
  • College: Lehigh University
  • Twitter: @erikslaterNR
  • Instagram: @erikslater44

What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
I am a journalism major with business and real estate minors. Aside from football, I am a sports reporter for the Lehigh newspaper, “The Brown and White”, and host my own sports talk radio show and podcast on Lehigh’s radio station, WLVR 91.3 FM Bethlehem.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
Competitiveness and accountability.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I see myself as a versatile player on the edge for our team. I can use my quickness and technique to put consistent pressure on the quarterback on passing downs while also staying stout in the run game. I can also drop into coverage if needed. I’d say the scheme and position that best fits my skill set would be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
The best player I’ve ever watched film on and prepared for is Chase Edmonds when he was at Fordham. The things he could do with the ball in his hands were impressive, and it’s no surprise that he’s found success in the league. He wound up getting hurt and not playing against us my freshman year so I’d have to say the best player I’ve ever played against is probably Keenan Reynolds at Navy my sophomore year. His speed and cutback ability made things challenging, especially in that triple option offense.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
My roommate and our starting linebacker Pete Haffner. Pete makes the calls for our defense and is like another coach out on the field. His dedication and preparation each week in the film room is a big part of our success. Having a second-level player like that behind me is huge in that I know he’ll always be in the right spot.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
During my sophomore year of high school I was dealing with two separate injuries heading into the season that I was trying to play through. While struggling with these injuries, both of my grandparents passed away within a few months of each other. Fortunately, my teammates and coaches were there to help me through this difficult time. I’d say that was an important year because that experience spoke to me in terms of how strong and rare the relationships built through the game of football are.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
Definitely Basketball. I traveled the country playing AAU basketball for the Riverside Hawks out of New York City and competed with and against many Division 1 and professional players. I love the speed and fluidity of the game as well as the incredible dexterity it takes to handle the ball and create offensively at a high level. I’ve definitely seen the skills and athleticism I used on the basketball court translate to the football field, particularly in my pass rush.

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I’m most proud that I’ve put myself in a position to be doing what I love at a prestigious school such as Lehigh University while developing relationships that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. I’d say my biggest achievement was being voted defensive lineman of the year on my team as a junior this past season.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
I’d say one of the most memorable plays of my collegiate career was my third sack in our first win this past season. It was a one possession game on a first down with about four minutes left. I knew it was a passing situation so I was able to have a good get-off. I felt the tackle overset and get his shoulders turned upfield to try to stay with me so I was able to get a hold of his inside shoulder and counter inside for the sack. It was a big momentum play and to be able to land three sacks in a game was an amazing feeling.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
My favorite NFL team is the New York Giants. Lately, I really enjoy watching film on TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He isn’t the biggest or fastest player on the edge, especially compared to his brother JJ, but he has still found similar success by playing with a high motor and focusing on technique. Those are things I try to take pride in and seeing a guy like him excel in the league by focusing on those traits is really cool.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
I really like Drake and Travis Scott pregame. Our starting receiver Jorge Portorreal usually takes care of the music in the locker room and he always has a good playlist on.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Baked ziti.

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?
Friday Night Lights.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I’m pursuing a career in journalism and broadcasting so I spend a lot of spare time dedicated to that. I started my own website in high school, The Nets Report, covering the Brooklyn Nets where I post articles and other updates on the team. I also cover the New York Giants for several websites and host my own podcast where I have teammates and other guests on to talk sports. A secret talent I have would be that I play the piano. I’ve been playing since I was about seven years old.

Who or what motivates you the most?
My family. The support they’ve given me on and off the field throughout my career has given me the opportunity to be in the position I am today. They push me to be my best each day and are a constant source of positivity in my life.

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