Junior transfer Dwayne Slay plays the game with an energy and passion rarely seen in college athletics today. That's right, he's the guy jumping around on kick offs and pumping up the crowd even after the kick returner has fair caught the ball deep in the end zone.
"I don't know. I guess I have always been hyper even since I was little and it just comes out of me," said Slay of his intensity on the field. "I just love the game of football and love to put my hat on somebody."
Slay transferred to Tech in June after graduating from Reedley Junior College in California. He, along with defensive end Charles Glover, quarterback Robert Johnson, outside linebacker Sylvester Brinkley and defensive tackle Marcus Campbell make up the "Reedley 5" that have made an immediate impact on the immensely improved Texas Tech defense.
Slay, a Georgia native, decided on Reedley College after failing to meet freshman eligibility requirements at the Division I level, but has since turned things around academically.
"You definitely have to apply yourself more here," Slay said of Tech. "With study hall and all the other things you have to put into it, it is definitely tougher than Reedley and a big step up."
In the first six games of the season, Tech's "SWARM" defense has allowed an average of just over 325 yards and 23.8 points a game; compared to the offense's 515 and 39.2 respectively. Saturday at Jones SBC Stadium Slay and company were absolutely stifling, allowing less than 350 yards total offense for the fifth time this season; a feat rarely, if ever seen last season.
Saturday, in the 70-10 shellacking of Nebraska, Slay recorded one tackle, and did his part to chip in on Nebraska's seven turn-over outing with an interception and return of 33 yards down to the Nebraska six yard-line.
Over the past two years while at Reedley, Slay started every game at free-safety leading the Tigers to a 12-0 record and a national championship in 2002, and a 9-1 record last year. Adjusting to a new defensive scheme has been key to Slay's immediate contribution on the Tech D.
"I picked up the system pretty fast," Slay said. "Coming in and playing with guys like Chad Johnson, Vincent Meeks, and Josh Rangel has really helped me a lot. You know, now I have learned the scheme and where to line up so I am starting to feel pretty comfortable out there."
With a new team also comes a new role. Slay not only understands that role, but has embraced it.
"My role is to apply enthusiasm and make plays," said Slay. "I want to climb the latter and get better, but more than anything I really just want to see us win."
Reedley grad and fellow transfer Sylvester Brinkley (who also had a nice game on Saturday) had a few things to say about long time friend Dwayne Slay.
"He's very athletic and has a great frame on him," Brinkley said. "Dwayne really knows how to sit back and read at safety and he is just a great overall football player."
So far this season Slay is in the top fifteen players on defense in total tackles with 9 assisted and 5 solo tackles. He also leads the team with two interceptions.
Next up for the Red Raiders are those perilous Longhorns from down south in the capital city, but a bye week first means time for some "R and R" right?
"Not at all! Coach Leach has us working harder than ever," Slay said. "It's not really a bye week for us. We see it as an extra week to prepare for Texas and get in the weight room a little more."
Now that the annual embarrassment to Oklahoma's crimson and cream is done, UT will be out for blood. This week they get Missouri at home and will try to corral Brad Smith in Austin, but secretly I think they are looking ahead to an October 23 date at Jones SBC Stadium.
UT hates to play here. It's that simple.
As a transfer Slay can only imagine how big the implications are for a game with UT. More experienced players have stressed the importance of this game to the program and fans of west Texas.
"I can tell you one thing. Vincent Meeks told me that Cedric Benson is a tough back and you have to wrap up on him. We want this game," Slay said.
Dwayne Slay has been an impact player ever since the time he stepped onto the Texas Tech practice field. His intensity rubs off on everyone on the team. Senior running back Johnnie Mack said it best in describing his new teammate.
"He's hungry! Dwayne Slay is the real deal!" Mack said. "There have been two games where he comes barreling down the field and just knocks a guy out. The thing about Dwayne Slay is that if he doesn't get his opportunity on defense he takes it out on special teams. There will always be some way that you will see number 3 around the football and knocking someone on their butt."
Slaying the Competition
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