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The Scarlet & Black

Ryan Slager shatters record books

Ryan Slager sits atop the record books for career tackles.

By Lily Bohlke

Last November, Ryan Slager ’19 beat the Grinnell College football team’s record for most overall career tackles, which was previously 433, held by Lee Kraemer ’92. Slager was at it again last weekend, beating another team record for most unassisted tackles — versus an assisted tackle, which can include multiple players — previously held by David Ternes ’15 at 207. Against St. Norbert College last Saturday, he recorded 17 solo tackles, putting him at 219 total in his career.

Despite Slager’s admirable performance, the team ended up losing to St. Norbert with a final score of  91-0. 

“It was really cool, I wish we could have had a W with it,” Slager said. “It’s just a pretty cool feeling, and it’s just what I do. I’m just really good at making tackles and it’s just kind of normal for me.”

Not only has he hit these two career tackle milestones, but he has also led the nation in average tackles per game during the last two seasons, and he intends to do so again this year. In the fall 2017 season, he averaged 15.4 tackles a game, and during the fall 2016 season, he averaged 15.1 per game.

“I just have a great eye for the ball. Everyone says that I just know where the ball is at all times, and that’s pretty much the secret, and just keep running — don’t stop,” Slager said.

According to Coach Jeff Pederson, “Slager has been a high-motor player since he set foot on campus.” Slager said he has always had somewhat of a leadership role on the team’s defense, as the starting middle linebacker. This year, he has extended that leadership role to the entire team as captain.

During the remainder of this season, Slager said he hopes to break the all-time Division III record for most tackles. However, he also emphasized his goals to see the team improve as a whole, become more consistent and “ultimately get the Ws.”

Over the course of his football career, Slager said he is always “striving to get that W,” and “fighting for that extra step.” He recognizes that his personal statistics alone are not enough to get there, but rather that the team working together is what will do it.

“The cool thing to see has been the evolution of Ryan and some of his defensive teammates,” Pederson wrote in an email to The S&B. “Just like Ryan, several of them were also starting, or playing a lot, as first-years and it’s been fun to watch them grow from inexperienced players that needed a lot of coaching and mentoring to veterans who are now mentoring the younger guys. Those are the little things that most people don’t get to see, but that make it very rewarding for those of us who get to be a part of it every day.”

Ryan Slager sits atop the record books for career tackles.
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