What I Learned Watching: Darius Slayton

ATLANTA - Ethan Burch reviews Greater Atlanta Christian WR Darius Slayton's performance against Benedictine.

Darius Slayton Greater Atlanta Christian found itself trailing 7-0 in the first quarter of its Class AA state title bout with Benedictine on Saturday afternoon. A stagnant Spartan offense needed production from four-star wideout and Georgia commit Darius Slayton.

Slayton, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver prospect out of Norcross, Ga., has the athletic ability to play basically any position he chooses at the collegiate level, from cornerback to wide receiver, but Georgia will need his help on the offensive side of the ball. GAC needed Slayton in every way possible on Saturday. The senior lined up at both wide receiver and cornerback for the Spartans.

Facing a surmountable deficit early, the Spartans chose to go with a rushing attack led by Tennessee commit Micah Abernathy. That didn’t prove to be the right approach, however, as a GAC fumble resulted in a lost ball and six points for Benedictine that put the Cadets up 13-0. It seemed it was finally time for GAC to get the ball in Slayton’s hands. Slayton opened with a four-yard carry.

Slayton lined up primarily on the outside and used his speed and quickness to get open downfield, but GAC quarterback Davis Mills did not have enough time in the pocket to find the open receiver. Slayton is undoubtedly a downfield threat, which is something GAC needed to utilize in Saturday’s matchup with Benedictine.

It was evident that Benedictine’s offense planned to keep the ball away from Slayton’s side of the field as much as possible. Its offensive success depended on it. As a result, the Cadets’ offense found more open field and opportunities for big chunks of yards when it threw (or ran) the ball away from Slayton. The plan seemed to work. Benedictine used a deep ball to the left side of the field (opposite Slayton) to get into position for a field goal, which gave the Cadets a 16-0 lead over GAC with 9:24 left to play in the first half.

The down field approach wasn’t working for GAC, so it decided to use Slayton in the backfield. It worked well for the Spartans as Slayton’s four-yard carry sparked a 65-yard drive that ended in a breakaway touchdown run by Abernathy.

Slayton showed off more of his speed and quickness on a kick return when the Spartans trailed 30-7 with just under a minute to play in the first quarter. Slayton fielded the ball for a 70-yard return that set the Spartans up at the Benedictine 20. The return was the key to that GAC drive, which resulted in yet another touchdown run by Abernathy to cut the Benedictine lead to 16.

The final two quarters would be Slayton’s best showing of the afternoon. With Abernathy off the field for one series, GAC was forced to utilize Slayton more. Slayton had two catches on that drive. One of those was a touchdown catch to cut the Benedictine lead to nine.

Burch’s Final Word on Slayton: Slayton is an extremely athletic receiver who possesses both speed and quickness. One of Slayton’s biggest strengths is his ability to go up and get the ball. He’s a downfield threat, yes. However, the ball has to be thrown to him. That wasn’t the easiest thing to do in GAC’s matchup with Benedictine in the state title game because the blocking up front wouldn’t allow Mills enough time to look downfield. Also, Slayton has the ability to play corner when necessary. However, Benedictine was smart enough to keep the ball away from Slayton’s side en route to a 45-21 win and a Class AA State Championship.


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