Atlanta, Ga.--For true freshman wide receiver Chris Slaughter the 2007 season has been one of disappointment. Arriving late to fall practice after questions were raised on his eligibility, Slaughter fought an uphill battle all season to get familiar enough with the offense to make a contribution for the Tigers.
All that has changed now as Slaughter has a fresh start thanks to the addition of new coordinator Tony Franklin and his spread system. After struggling to pick up the West Coast system employed by Al Borges, Slaughter says the news of a change was like a breath of fresh air for him.
"When they first said we were bringing in a new coordinator I was like ‘who are we going to get now'," Slaughter says. "Then they were like ‘he goes five wide' and I called my mom and said ‘God was with me on this'. She was like ‘just pray and you'll get your blessings'. That's what I did."
One of the more talented receivers on Auburn's team the moment he arrived on campus, Slaughter has fought to become physical enough and also mentally up to speed in the offense. He says in the new offense both of his problems have been solved even with a change in positions.
"I was at ‘Z' and now they've moved me to ‘Y' like an inside slot," Slaughter says. "It's like a tight end. When we pass the ball they bring me in to the ‘Y' like a speed receiver.
"I have kind of seen that by how they've been putting me in and rotating," Slaughter adds. "I get a lot of balls in this type of offense. That's what I have been waiting for. Now I can show them what I can do. Throwing the ball, that's what I like to do. I'm not the blocking type. I just like to catch the ball."
While it's still uncertain that Auburn will fully employ Franklin's system against Clemson, Slaughter says that right away the wide receivers got a taste of what to expect down the road and he likes it.
"When we first started practice we were excited," Slaughter says. "When we got done with the first practice our legs were tired, but if you want to be a good receiver and run down the field and catch the ball that's what you've got to do. This is what we've been waiting for."
Slaughter could be the breakout player of the year in the Chick-fil-A Bowl or it could be just another game for the freshman, but no matter what happens in the final game of 2007 Slaughter says he's got a feeling he'll be a big part of things down the road. He says he gets that backing straight from the top.
"They have been telling me I'm going to get in," Slaughter says. "Coach Franklin told me today that he's never seen anybody with hands like me. As long as I'm on his good side I'm good."