MLive is spending the summer checking out Michigan’s top football rookies of 2023. From Monday to Saturday each week, MLive will feature a new athlete. Today provides a look at Detroit Martin Luther King offensive lineman Johnathan Slack, a Michigan State draftee who likes to be physical in the trenches.
Height: 6 feet 3 inches
Weight: 270 pounds
Position: offensive lineman
Rated: Three stars by 247Sports composite, ranking Michigan’s 13th overall top prospect for 2023.
Recruiting Status: Enlisted at Michigan State on Feb. 2, 2022.
2021 Season Highlights: He was a Metro Detroit Dream Team selection last fall. He finished the season with 50 pancakes as King won a Division 3 state championship.
Johnathan Slack loves pancakes, but it’s not the type of pancake most people think of.
As an offensive lineman at Detroit Martin Luther King, Slack pancaked many opponents in the trenches. In his only junior season, he recorded 50 pancakes. Considering he plays a position that doesn’t receive a fair share of the spotlight or statistical categories, Slack treats every pancake like a running back would celebrate a touchdown.
“I love to tease people,” Slack said. “I love pancakes. It’s the best thing ever. It’s my touchdown celebration.
Since his commitment to Michigan State, Slack has been looking forward to the days when he will bring his pancake abilities to East Lansing. In fact, Slack is trying to make that happen as soon as possible since he intends to sign up at Michigan State next January.
“Skill-wise, I feel like I can move guys around,” Slack said. “Like, I’m pretty quick on my feet. Besides that, I study the game a lot, so it won’t be too difficult for me to adapt to something like that. I just have to go in and learn the playbook. My goal is to enroll in January, so by spring prom I should be good and things should go from there.
SPARTAN MENTALITY DAWG
There are a lot of things Slack loves about the state of Michigan. From coaching staff to fan support, Slack is already embracing the “Spartan Dawg” slogan highlighted by head coach Mel Tucker. Slack believes his mentality will blossom with the Spartans.
“The mentality that I had was in the trenches,” Slack said. “I feel like a Dawg. I’m a Dawg, I’m a Dawg, I’m a Dawg. Until the game is over, I’m gonna keep beating, I’m gonna keep beating. I feel like that’s the mentality. He adapts to the trenches and the offensive linemen.
Unsurprisingly, Slack is a big fan of Tucker and what he was able to accomplish with Michigan State in just two seasons. So far, Slack has enjoyed getting to know his future head coach.
“My relationship with Coach Tucker is pretty good,” Slack said. “He’s going to stay with us. That’s one thing about Coach Tucker: he makes sure he stays on his players. He’s going to hold me accountable and that’s something I know I’ll need in the future, because if I’m not held accountable for anything now, then I’m going to do anything. I appreciate the way he holds the players accountable. He expects us to do everything the way it’s supposed to be done. I feel like this will really help me for the future.
Slack said Tucker would also check in on his mother and family members, which he always appreciated.
“It’s not just about football,” Slack said. “He wants to make sure you’re doing well outside of football, academically (and) mentally. He’s just a good coach, man.
AIM TO PROSPER
Beyond Tucker, Slack is especially excited to work with Michigan State offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic, or “Coach Kap” as he is known to players.
“Coach Kap, he’s one of the greatest coaches on the offensive line,” Slack said. “So that’s another reason I went there because I want to be coached by the best. As you know, Kenneth Walker, he had over 1,000 rushing yards last year. “Coach Kap most definitely knows what he’s doing when it comes to the offensive line and run-blocking patterns and all that. I just wanted to be taught by the best and I wanted to get the best education possible. That’s why I chose Michigan State.
In addition to her skills, Slack hopes to stand out by taking on a leadership role as soon as she arrives on campus.
“What I really feel like I can bring to the table as a young freshman is my leadership,” Slack said. “I feel like that’s what’s going to open everyone’s eyes, to know how young I am and how good a leader I can be.”
Slack is already practicing his leadership skills at King, where he says he stays after practice to help younger players grasp plays and techniques. Slack believes everyone should be ready to jump into the game, no matter how far down the depth chart they are.
“As a leader, I have to make sure they know everything, so they don’t get confused when they get it and we can continue to be successful and successful with our playbook. The big thing for me this year is leadership. Just direct leadership… My expectation for me as a senior this year, really, is just to be there for my team.
One thing Slack has made clear is that it’s not shy when it comes to setting expectations. He hopes to prove it to the entire Michigan State community next year.
“Hey, I’m coming,” Slack said. “I can’t wait to come out and really show what I can do. I know there are tweets out there from people wanting to see what I can do. Have faith and believe I’m coming full force. I I’m going to show everyone what I can do and no one will be upset. So there you go. Go green.”