The off-season chatter around Auburn has largely centered on the Tiger’s offense going into 2018. With the team returning a 3,000-yard passer for the first time in its history, the Tigers could take the next step in fielding an elite passing attack. With all of Jarrett Stidham’s key pass-catchers returning, big plays through the air should occur with regularity this fall.
While the focus is on returning receiving record-holder Ryan Davis, and wistful musings about the injured Eli Stove and Will Hastings, Auburn’s key deep-threat has flown under the radar.
That man is Darius Slayton.
When healthy, Slayton was clearly the best deep-threat during Auburn’s 2017 campaign. While he battled an injury that caused him to miss time and not play at his highest level, he reached peak form by the end of the season and showed Auburn fans what he is capable of.
In 13 games last season, he averaged 22.2 yards per catch while hauling in 29 passes for 643 yards and five scores.
He was a big play waiting to happen over the course of the second half of the season. He used his elite speed to score a 53-yard bomb from Stidham against Texas A&M. He was involved in a trick play and caught his longest pass of the season against Arkansas for a 62-yard score.
His best play, and a tantalizing taste of what he and Stidham can become as a big-play tandem, came against Georgia.
This play shows his awareness of where defenders are around him as well as where he is on the field. It is also notable that he has the ability to extend his arms to haul in the contested pass and not rely on pinning the ball against his body to record the catch.
It also shows that his quarterback trusts him.
Auburn brings in another solid class of wide receivers and the, “too many mouths to feed,” saying has been tossed around in conversations about this position group. It seems clear that among the healthy receivers on Auburn’s roster, Stidham will have no issue giving Slayton a chance to fight for the football and give him chances to make plays for the Tigers in 2018.
(You can follow Zac Blakerby on Twitter @Zblackerby)
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