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Marshall’s Slate a Playmaker at Tight End

With Cody Slate at tight end, Marshall has a dangerous option in its offense. At 6 feet 4 and with speed and sure hands, Slate is considered one of the nation’s top players at the position.

On Saturday, when Marshall (1-0) faces No. 14 Virginia Tech (0-1), Slate has the chance to make a statement about just how good he can be. Against defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s defense, Slate and the Thundering Herd should receive a tough test.

For Slate, a senior, a promising showing against the Hokies could help his NFL draft stock. The game likely will be the Thundering Herd’s biggest challenge of the season and an opportunity for Slate to showcase his ability outside of Conference USA.

“The ACC being one of the top conferences in the country,” Slate said on Wednesday, “it allows me to size up what kind of player I am.”

Slate already has established himself as one of Marshall's all-time greatest offensive players, ranking among the likes of wide receivers Randy Moss of the New England Patriots and former Patriot Troy Brown. Slate ranks ninth in program history in receptions (158) and receiving yards (2,126) and eighth in career touchdown receptions (21).

Slate is the NCAA's active career receiving leader at tight end and is a John Mackey Award candidate as the best at the position. He was brilliant in Marshall’s 31-28, season-opening win last Saturday against Southern Illinois, finishing with nine receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

But Slate said he did not view Saturday’s game against the Hokies as a chance to make a name for himself as one of the nation’s elite players. Rather, he demurred and redirected the focus to the team. Marshall, which joined division I-A in 1997, has not defeated a ranked since 2003 and has only done so three times dating to 1976.

“I try to just become a better, complete player and do whatever I can to help the team,” Slate said of his goals against Virginia Tech. “If I do horrible and the team wins, I’m just as happy.”

By Mark Viera  |  September 10, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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