It’s true that Darius Slay hasn’t been in the NFL Draft spotlight as much as his teammate/counterpart Johnthan Banks, but his value of hard work and love for football should firmly place him on Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s radar.
Slay made a name for himself at Brunswick High School in Georgia when he lettered in basketball and excelled in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, but his true love was football. A torn MCL sidelined him in his junior year, but not before he rushed for 562 yards and six touchdowns in the first five games. Back for his senior year, the all-state running back and defensive back was selected for the Georgia North-South All Star Game.
Unfortunately, his high school accomplishments on the football field didn’t carry over to the classroom. Slay’s deficient grades prevented him from accepting the scholarship offered to him by Mississippi State. Slay didn’t let that disappointment get him down. He enrolled at Itawamba Community College and proceeded to make his mark on the field there immediately; his college football debut was an opening kickoff return for a touchdown. By the end of his freshman season, he’d recorded 41 tackles and two fumbles forced with three interceptions and was named to First-Team All-State (cornerback) and Second-Team All-State (kick returner). The hits kept coming during his sophomore year when he recorded 27 tackles; that year he made First-Team All-State as both defensive back and kick returner.
Slay’s hard work didn’t stop when he left the field. By the end of his sophomore year at Itawamba, he was academically ready to move to where he was already committed to going—Mississippi State. Slay played in every regular game in his first season there, to no one’s surprise. His star shone particularly bright when playing Georgia in his junior year; three tackles, one forced fumble, and an interception returned 72 yards for a touchdown made everyone sit up and take notice.
If Slay isn’t on the Falcons’ radar, he should be…and Dimitroff should make it happen.