As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
Slayton was a hot commodity coming out of GAC in the 2015 class. With decent size, track star speed, and enough athletic ability to be recruited at both wide receiver and corner, Slayton was oozing with potential. The only drawback to the #16 recruit in Georgia was the competition he played against. GAC, despite being in the middle of the most competitive high school football landscape in the southeast (Gwinnett Country, Georgia), was a small 2A private school, meaning Slayton wasn’t able to face elite talent on Friday nights.
He remedied that, however, by showing out at camps. He was one of the players selected to attend “The Opening” by Nike, and he was an Army All-American. Slayton was also a a state champion in the 100m and 200m, though again, it was only at the 2A level.
Slayton was a long time UGA-lean, and committed to the Bulldogs in early December. There was always a sense his recruitment wasn’t totally closed, though, as Tennessee and Auburn had a shot in the crystal ball leading up to National Signing Day. Obviously, Slayton ended up choosing Auburn on NSD eve, even if he didn’t quite commit to the right university.
I am happy to say that I have officially committed to the University of Auburn WAR EAGLE!! #WDE #gotigers— Darius Slayton (@Young_Slay2) February 4, 2015
Ok for all y'all grammar fanatics my bad I meant Auburn University*— Darius Slayton (@Young_Slay2) February 4, 2015
Slayton redshirted in 2015, and he didn’t miss much in terms of quarterback play. However, when the Tigers lost essentially all of their returning production in 2016, Slayton was able to step in and contribute as a sophomore. Though he didn’t get a ton of snaps, his big play ability was obvious, racking up 292 yards and a touchdown on just 15 catches, good for second on the team in yards.
When Auburn finally got a quarterback who could uncork some long balls, Slayton was ready to show out in 2017. Slayton became known as one of the biggest deep threats in the conference with 643 yards on a still small 29 catches, again good for second on the team behind Ryan Davis. Slayton went on a run in the second half of the season where he caught a touchdown in four straight games, including this beauty against then #1 Georgia in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Slayton’s 2018, like many Tigers, didn’t live up to the hype. On paper, he actually caught more balls (35) for more yards (670) and the same number of touchdowns (5). But anyone watching the games could see his connection with Stidham suffered. There were a ton of missed open passes, particularly overthrown deep balls, that if they had connected, might’ve changed the course of the whole year. Slayton also was prone to drops, which was strange because of the circus catches he proved he could make.
Slayton’s final game as a Tiger (unbeknownst to the the fans at the time) was full of fireworks, as he picked up 3 catches for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. It certainly skewed his numbers for the season some, but it also acted as a highlight video for NFL scouts to watch.
Slayton wound up declaring for the NFL Draft not long after the end of the season. While it shocked us here at College and Magnolia initially, it does make sense. He graduated, and he’s getting to leave with his fellow class of 2015-mates. He likely wasn’t going to improve by staying at Auburn and working with a new (possibly run-heavy) quarterback and offense, and as we saw in May, he was able to get drafted at a decent spot by the Giants in the 5th round.
Slayton was a ton of fun (and also sometimes infuriating) to watch at Auburn, and his touchdown in the 2017 UGA will remembered for a good while here on the Plains. He came a long way in his four years, going from athletic toolsy speedster to bonafide NFL receiver, which is more than anyone can ask for.