Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater will forgo his senior season to prepare for the 2021 National Football League Draft, the three-year starter announced in a statement.
Slater, who is on track to graduate in December, started 37 games over three seasons for the Wildcats, which included a streak of 30 consecutive starts from the 2017-19 seasons. The Sugar Land, Texas, native helped pave the way to two bowl victories and a Big Ten Conference West Division title during his time with the Wildcats. Slater earned Freshman Team All-Big Ten honors in 2017 before rounding out his ‘Cats career with third team (2018) and honorable mention (2019) conference honors.
An Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Slater had a breakout season in 2019, allowing zero sacks, one quarterback hit and five quarterback pressures over the course of 11 games. Pro Football Focus graded Slater as the No. 2 returning offensive tackle in Power Five football and the top returner in the Big Ten. In the 2020 offseason Slater drew national recognition, earning Preseason All-America distinction from Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. He was also named to the Outland Trophy watch list, which is given to the nation’s top interior offensive lineman.
STATEMENT FROM RASHAWN SLATER (NBC Sports Chicago)
The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This fall, I was excited to earn my degree and win a Big Ten championship with my team. Though I am still on track to graduate in December, it breaks my heart that I won’t be able to strap up and battle with my brothers again in this time frame.
While I can’t control the events that led to this moment, I can control my response. After careful prayer, thought, and discussion with my family and coaches, I have decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
To my teammates: I love you and am forever thankful for the memories and lifelong friendships we have built. I will miss everything from the early morning workouts to the countless hours we spent hanging out in the locker room. This team was, and still is, destined for great things.
I’d like to thank Coach Fitz, Coach Anderson, Coach Hooten, and so many other coaches, trainers, and staff at Northwestern who helped me to grow as a football player and, more importantly, as a man! The lessons I’ve learned since I stepped on campus are irreplaceable and will continue to guide me through the rest of my life.
I’m so glad I found my home at Northwestern and will always cherish my time here and the relationships I’ve been blessed to be part of that I know will carry on. My experience was everything I dreamed of and more. I’m a Wildcat for life.
STATEMENT FROM DAN & SUSAN JONES FAMILY HEAD FOOTBALL COACH PAT FITZGERALD
From the first time we met Rashawn as a high school recruit, it was clear he was special. He comes from a great family, and his respectful personality was in direct contrast to how imposing he was, and the incredible physicality that was clear on tape. It’s a rare player that can make an impact in the Big Ten in their first year of college, and even more rare to do it on the offensive line. Rashawn earned a starting spot almost immediately and never gave it up, helping pave the way to two bowl championships and a Big Ten West Division title. He has made the entire Northwestern community proud not only on gamedays, but in the classroom as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and we can’t wait to see what his future holds on Sundays!
STATEMENT FROM OFFENSIVE LINE COACH KURT ANDERSON
It’s been a privilege to coach a student-athlete like Rashawn, who truly possesses some special gifts critical to being an offensive lineman.
He’s smart. He has great technique and outstanding instincts. And he’s got unbelievable athletic ability for the position, and an unmatched work ethic and drive to improve. You combine that with his levelheadedness and decision making at game speed, and it adds up to a future you just can’t wait to watch.
I’ve coached first-round draft picks in college, I’ve been around top picks in the NFL, and I have no doubt that when NFL teams dig deep on their research and film study they’re going to reach the same conclusion: Rashawn Slater is a first-round draft pick.