What I Learned Watching: Darius Slayton

NORCROSS - Matt DeBary takes a look at GAC ATH Darius Slayton.

Anyone who follows college football recruiting should recognize Darius Slayton’s name by now. The highly recruited WR/DB continued his spectacular senior season Friday night, leading his GAC team to an easy 52-0 win over the KIPP Collegiate Warriors.

Slayton and the rest of his Spartan teammates did not play against great competition, but Slayton still looked very impressive, and made big plays on both sides of the ball. GAC’s defense played in a Cover 3 most of the game, so Slayton and fellow CB Micah Abernathy were asked to prevent the big pass play, and help in run support when needed. The KIPP Collegiate offense struggled throughout the game, but they did give Slayton a chance to make plays on defense. Slayton looked great at CB, using his feet well to get into position and bait the opposing QB into throwing his way. He made a couple nice tackles in the 1st quarter, but for the most part, the Warriors did not run or throw in Slayton’s direction.

With 9:40 left in the first half, the Spartan defense put pressure on the Warrior QB, forcing him to get rid of the ball in a hurry. Unfortunately for the QB, the ball was thrown to Slayton’s side of the field. The WR in the slot ran a deep corner into Slayton’s zone, and Slayton jumped high into the air, and intercepted the poorly thrown ball with ease over the defender. Slayton then spun out of the original tackle; stiff armed another, and was finally brought down by 3 Warrior players after gaining about 10 yards. Slayton would make an impressive TFL on the Warrior’s next possession with 4:50 left in the half, showing good instincts to disrupt the play before it got started. He showed great quickness on both sides of the ball, and seemed like he was playing on a whole different level.

Slayton also made a couple of big plays on special teams in the first half as a punt returner. He had a nice return with 3:58 left in the half, gaining about 20 yards while making a couple defenders miss, showing great agility and balance. That GAC possession would lead to a Micah Abernathy fumble, and then a 3 and out on the Warriors next possession. On the following punt, the Warriors did not learn their lesson from the previous punt, and kicked it to Slayton one more time. With 2:00 left in the half, Slayton electrified the crowd on his third punt return of the game, breaking a tackle as soon as he caught the ball. He then ran right to the GAC sideline, broke two more tackles, and reversed field and ran another 40 yards down the KIPP Collegiate sideline. All of the fans around me, including myself, thought Slayton had been tackled at least two or three different times during the return before he was finally run out of bounds. I knew right then that Slayton is going to be a special player. Not only is he extremely talented, but he has an incredible feel for the game, and plays hard every single play. He could have easily run out of bounds after 10 yards, but instead, he turned an average play into an incredible one.

Offensively, Slayton was just as impressive as he was on defense and special teams. The poor defender in charge of covering Slayton looked to be in Junior High still, and just didn’t have a chance of stopping Slayton, let alone slowing him down. Slayton scored his first touchdown with 2:00 left in the first quarter on an inside slant from the 5 yard line. He got inside his defender, and snagged the high pass out of the air with ease. Throughout the game, Slayton ran quick efficient routes, and looked very fluid in and out of his breaks. His second touchdown came with 2:07 left in the half. GAC was on the 20 yard line, and wanted a touchdown before the half to extend their lead to 35-0. Slayton ran a vertical route on the outside beating his man right off the line of scrimmage. The pass was underthrown, but Slayton adjusted well, and leaped over the defender and caught the ball at the highest point. Slayton ran the route to perfection, showed great speed, and good hands to reel in the pass. GAC got the ball back again with about 28 seconds left in the half, and they went right back to Slayton, who made two very impressive catches on the sideline on high passes. Slayton did his best Jordy Nelson impression on the sideline, and showed great balance to stay inbounds after catching the pass.

Both Slayton played sparingly in the 2nd half after a halftime lead of 35. Since the 2nd half of the game didn’t start until 9:45 pm, the officials decided to have a running clock for the rest of the game, giving the GAC backups a chance to get some playing time.

Overall, I was very impressed with what I saw from Darius Slayton on Friday night. Again, the competition he faced was not very good, but Slayton still showed everyone in attendance why he is one of the top prospects in the state. Slayton has potential to be a very good player on offense, defense, and special teams at the next level. He looked like a natural WR, but I think he might have the most upside at DB. He has the explosiveness, the instincts, the speed, and the hands that you need to be a great player in college. I expect Slayton to have an early impact wherever he decides to play football on the next level.

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