Growing up just 40 miles south of Jonesboro, in Wynne, Ark., the decision to commit to Arkansas State came naturally to former A-State football center Tab Slaughter.
“As a kid, I went to a lot of football, baseball and basketball games at Arkansas State because it was so convenient to be able to watch college sports so close to home. Because of that, I was a fan of Arkansas State and attended quite a few of their summer baseball and football camps growing up,” said Slaughter.
“ASU did a really good job of recruiting and stressed the importance of having as many quality home-grown players as possible. They offered me and Jerome Stegall, who was one of my best friends and my high school quarterback, at the same time. Ultimately, we decided to go to Arkansas State because of the pride we had in the area, the vision the coaching staff had for the future and the unique opportunity to play Division I college football so close to home. Antonio Warren, who was a year behind us at Wynne, also ended up coming to ASU and was a four-year starter at running back.”
In the spring of 2003, Slaughter received the “I Will” award from the Steve Roberts-led A-State coaching staff. Under Roberts, the I Will Award was the highest annual award given to the player who best exemplified the willingness to do what it takes to accomplish team and individuals’ goals.
“Wanting is easy, being willing is not. One requires thought, the other requires action. I was very honored to receive the award from Coach Roberts and his staff,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter was a three-year starter, mostly at center on the offensive line. After suffering a career-ending knee injury at the end of his junior year, he spent his senior season assisting Darren Hiller with the offensive line.
Following graduation and the tough decision not to go into coaching as a profession, Tab entered the business world in Dallas, Texas in December 2005.
Slaughter is now the Chief Operating Officer for Darr Equipment Co. in Dallas, Texas, where he is responsible for all sales and operations for Darr’s 15 locations.
“I believe what’s helped me in the business world is my firm belief that my job is to help others be successful and accomplish their goals. If I can help others reach their goals while the business reaches its objectives, I have done my job” said Slaughter. “I think sports teaches you that and if you can take that lesson into life, you will be successful.”
In addition to his full-time job, Tab is also a football official and was hired by the National Football League in April of this year. Tab was an umpire in the Big 12 for seven seasons and most recently worked the 2020 Rose Bowl between Wisconsin and Oregon. Tab also worked in the XFL in 2020 and has been a part of the NFL’s Officiating Development Program for four years.
“I grew up around officiating, but I honestly never thought I would do it. It really never crossed my mind.” Slaughter said. “My dad was a 14-year NFL official. He came up through the Southland Conference then to the Southwest Conference and then enjoyed a 14-year career in the NFL with two Super Bowls, six championship games, and a Pro Bowl, but it’s not something I thought I would ever do.
“Going into my last semester at ASU, I knew had a big decision to make,” Tab continued. “Was I going to coach football as a profession, or go into the business world? I had the opportunity to stay at Arkansas State and be a graduate assistant or go to Dallas to follow a business opportunity, which was very risky because of all the unknowns. After a lot of thought, prayer, and sleepless nights, I decided to take the business deal in Dallas. But after three short months of being on the job, I was missing sports, and I knew I needed to find a way to get back around it somehow.”
Unsure if he would like being on the other side of the ball, Slaughter called his dad to ask questions about what he needed to do to get into officiating. After being a little surprised, but really excited he asked, his dad provided valuable information on the steps he needed to take next.
“Dad knew I would be hooked as soon as I got back on the grass,” Slaughter said.
“I worked a scrimmage with a high school crew in Dallas and I knew pretty quickly I was going to like it. Once I got into working junior high and varsity ball it allowed me to dig in and challenge myself by learning the rules and other nuances of the game you don’t learn while you’re playing it. Then being able to apply the rules in real-time gave me an opportunity to continue to compete to be the very best I can be and perform at a high level,” Slaughter said.
Officiating quickly provided Slaughter with most everything he missed about sports.
“I obviously missed the game itself, but I missed being in the locker room, being around the guys, and I missed having to perform and be accountable with a group of people who love sports and are working hard toward a collective goal. Officiating gave that back to me.”
Slaughter spoke passionately on the advice he would share with current Arkansas State student-athletes.
“In my opinion, there is really no better way to learn life lessons than through the avenue of sports. It teaches you about sacrifice, dedication, about hard work. It teaches you how to win the right way, and it teaches you how to deal with loss. It teaches you endurance, it teaches you perseverance and it teaches you how to fight through adversity,” Slaughter added. “Those are all extremely valuable life lessons that you just don’t get unless you’re in sports.
“Just be the best you that you can possibly be and do everything you can to help those around you be better,” Tab continued. “Don’t focus on the destination, focus on the journey – focus on your path and what you’re doing today to improve yourself, on and off the field. Live life with no regrets because life goes by fast. Love deeply, work hard and take risks. Treat people the right way, set your mind on what you want to accomplish and you’ll get what your heart desires, but you’ll never do it alone. It’s all about others.
“Your ability to play sports has provided you these tremendous resources that you’ve been surrounded with and real life lessons that are very hard to learn anywhere else at a young age. What you do with this distinct advantage is totally up to you,” Slaughter concluded.
Slaughter graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in Sports Management in December 2004.
Tab lives in McKinney, Texas and is married to A-State alumna and Zalma, Mo., native Erika (Campbell). They have two daughters and two sons, Ebby Lee (11), Nixon (10), Bowen (7) and Britt (4).
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2020/6/30/arkansas-state-athletics-where-are-they-now-tab-slaughter.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council