October 11, 2017
Darius Slayton’s 19-yard touchdown grab against Ole Miss on Saturday was the sophomore’s second-career touchdown at Auburn. Photo: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics
By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. – What does Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton bring to the offense?
“Straight speed,” teammate Ryan Davis said. “He’s one of those guys that can take the top off. I don’t know that there are too many guys that can run with him.”
Speed is something that Slayton has always had. When he was a kid playing tag or playing around the playground, it didn’t take long before he realized that no other kid could catch him. He started running track before he was 10, though he says he got beat often because he had “horrible” form. He clearly must have improved that form by the time he got to high school because he was a state champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dash.
Once Slayton got to Auburn, he turned his focus to football, and it should come as no surprise that he’s one of the fastest players on the team.
Most would say that the 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore is the fastest player on the offense, but there have been some discussions between teammates on whether Slayton or cornerback Javaris Davis is the fastest player on the Auburn roster.
“There’s been many debates, many arguments,” Slayon joked. “We tried to make it happen this past summer, but we never got around to it. I think I would take myself. I think he would take himself. But it would be a close race for sure.”
Ironically, both Slayton and Davis have been limited this season due to injuries. The former sprained his ankle in the first game against Georgia Southern and went the next three games without making a catch. He missed the Mercer game altogether.
“It was definitely tough at first because obviously it’s a hiccup with speed being my primary thing,” Slayton said. “Having a light limp slowed me down a little bit, but I’m getting over it and I’m learning to work with it and play with it. I feel like I can still go full speed.”
Slowly but surely, Slayton has been working his way back. He got behind the defense on a reverse pass and hauled in a difficult 49-yard catch against Mississippi State two weeks ago. And this past Saturday, he made two catches for 39 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown grab where he did well to get a foot down while falling out of bounds.
If there was any doubt about whether or not it was a catch, former Auburn running back Bo Jackson was right there to give the refs a thumbs up signal.
“When I saw the replay, it was definitely cool,” Slayton said. “Somebody like [Jackson]. I feel like he does a great job of being really supportive of Auburn and coming back.
“It was actually funny because he was around Friday. He was hanging out, so I kind of got a chance to talk to him then. It was cool to see him out there at the game, and then I made the catch right in front of him. It was all pretty cool.”
As Auburn prepares for Saturday’s contest at LSU, Slayton believes he’s close to 100 percent and said he felt great after Tuesday’s practice.
The offense is going to need Slayton and the rest of the wide receivers to step up and play well against an LSU defense that is not known for giving up explosive plays. On the season, they have only given up three passing plays of 30 yards or more – best in the SEC.
But if you ask Slayton, the Auburn offense has yet to hit its peak.
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys out there at receiver,” he said. “A lot of guys have speed, size, and Jarrett [Stidham] is really getting into his stride. I feel like he’s going to do a great job of getting us the ball. As long as we do our job and get open, the sky’s the limit.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) October 11, 2017
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @greg_ostendorf