February 29, 2012

Q&A with Bob Slowikowski

During the late 1990s, while Michael Vick was making highlights with long runs and deep passes, Bob Slowikowski was playing a key role as a blocking-oriented tight end. Recently, Slowikowski sat down with us to talk Bryan Stinespring, special teams, and his 72-yard touchdown reception against West Virginia.

Q: We always start with a question about recruiting. What was your recruiting process like, what made you choose Virginia Tech, and where would you have gone if you hadn't decided on the Hokies?

Slowikowski: I was recruited by Coach Stinespring, who at the time was the tight end coach. I remember him coming to my house for dinner a few times. Never did I believe when I was young that anything like that would ever happen. I wasn't a highly recruited guy so there were just a few schools that were seriously looking at me. I went on several trips to West Virginia as well as Virginia Tech and was thinking of joining my HS QB Marc Bulger down there, but honestly I had such a good feeling about Virginia Tech in addition to their Engineering program (ended up in business), that I couldn't pass it up. Looking back I am so glad I made that choice because the Virginia Tech community just has something that you can't find everywhere.

Q: You redshirted your first season in Blacksburg. What is the hardest thing about redshirting? Do you think it's crucial to have a few close friends that are also redshirting to get through it?

Slowikowski: I think the majority of my class redshirted as well. I think (Dave) Kadela and maybe (Chad) Beasley were the only ones who didn't. I always expected I would redshirt so it was just a good time to get to learn the system and get bigger. I was only 225 when I got to Virginia Tech.

Q: You came to Blacksburg in 1997 when Bryan Stinespring was the tight ends coach. He's also the tight end coach now. He moved to just offensive line coach the following season so you only had one year with him, but what was he like as your position coach?

Slowikowski: Stiney was a great coach. He has lots of energy and lots of knowledge. He made you feel comfortable as a young kid in a new environment. He liked to joke around but you also knew when it was time to be serious. I still keep in touch with coach and text him a few times during the season to congratulate on some big victories.

Q: You played a lot of special teams at Tech on things like punts and extra points. What are the differences between blocking for punts/extra points and blocking on regular plays?

Slowikowski: Well it is a totally different game. On offense you are trying to move someone to create spaces, on special teams you are trying to stop someone from going somewhere. Punt protection is a lot more like pass blocking then anything else and field goals are just....well hold on for two seconds.

Q: In 2000, you hauled in a 72-yard touchdown against West Virginia in your first official collegiate start. What do you remember about that play and that season in general?

Slowikowski: Ah yes my touchdown haha. It is hard to believe looking back and watching as much football as I do that I only scored one touchdown but I guess back then we just didn't throw the ball! It was a post pattern on the backside of the formation. A play we run all the time and it almost always goes front side. If I remember the coverage correctly they had two high safeties, which leaves the middle of the field wide open. I made a little head fake and Vick got me the ball (although if you watch it on tape it looks like he might have been throwing it to Andre Davis underneath). The defensive back got caught in between a pick attempt and the tackle and nobody was going to catch me after that, haha. That play took so much out of me I was exhausted the rest of the game. Not used to running that far in a game.

Q: We'll often see Virginia Tech line up two tight ends to one side of the field and then motion them before the snap to the opposite side of the field. What is the purpose of this and what are the tight ends and quarterback looking for when this occurs?

Slowikowski: Yes the tight ends are much more active in this new system. Not sure I ever went in motion. Usually they are just looking to see what kind of coverage it is, man versus zone. They could also be looking to see if the defense is going to shift or if we can outman them to one side.

Q: What was your favorite non-football related memory at Virginia Tech?

Slowikowski: I don't think I want any of those published. Honest answer though...There were several things I loved to do in Blacksbug. We always used hang out at the river at "the rocks" and there was a group of six to eight of us that went to NASCAR races - Bristol, Richmond, Martinsville and Charlotte. Lots of crazy camping stories there.

Q: Who do you think should replace Frank Beamer as head coach once he decides to retire?

Slowikowski: I would love to see Coach Foster take over. I think Bud would represent the Virginia Tech brand in its fullest and I think the fans would love it as well if we could keep it in house. He helped build the program on its tough defense.

Q: After being drafted by the Cowboys in the sixth round, you tore your ACL in mini-camp which essentially derailed your professional career. Talk about the disappointment that went along with that and your overall experience in the NFL. Do you have any crazy stories from that time?

Slowikowski: It all seemed like it happened so fast. I think I got hurt within a few weeks after arriving so I never really got a chance. I remember impressing a few people in the one or two camps I was healthy for. Initially I didn't know if I would have made the team if healthy or not but looking back the only hard part is seeing guys that played behind me in both High School (Jeff Dugan) and College (Jeff King) having significant careers in the NFL. But it is what it is.

It was an awesome experience none the less...Having Emmitt Smiths locker two down from yours and hanging out with guys like Joey Galloway and Rock Ismail in the training room all the time was pretty cool.

Q: What do you do nowadays? Do you make it back to Blacksburg often? Have you/did you ever consider going into coaching?

Slowikowski: Nowadays just work and kids for the most part. I haven't been back in a few years, just a long drive. I do try to go to the more local games like Maryland and Boston College (I live in Connecticut). I have plans to go to the Pittsburgh game this year (I am from Pittsburgh). I would like to coach but probably not to make a career out of it. I have two sons and the oldest is six so I have started coaching his teams - soccer and t-ball. He hasn't started football yet but I am sure I will be coaching that as well.

We would like to thank Bob for taking the time to answer our questions and would like to remind you to check back each Wednesday throughout the offseason for a new Q&A with a former Hokie.

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