DARIUS SLAY

Cornerback

Mississippi State University Bulldogs

#9

6:00.0-192

Brunswick, Georgia

Itawamba Community College

Brunswick High School

 

OVERVIEW

Slay is one of those blue chip finds that major colleges have been able to discover from the vast wealth of quality athletes that first began their careers at an institution competing in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College Conference. That league has served as a “farm system” over the years, as most of their players eventually find themselves welcome when they venture to Southeastern Conference, Sun Belt Conference and Southland Conference schools.

 

Slay’s rise to the elite group of shutdown cornerbacks eligible for selection on draft day has help vastly improve a once morbid Mississippi State secondary that ranked 91st in the nation before he joined the program, allowing 237.77 yards passing per game before his arrival. He ended up joining Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks in forming one of the best cover cornerback tandems in college football the last two years.

 

Their excellence in shutting down some of the best receivers in the country that hailed in the Southeastern Conference saw both Slay and Banks earn All-American honors in 2012, the first time that MSU cornerbacks earned that honor together in the same season.

 

The only other time two defensive backs from MSU were selected in the same season was in 2000, with cornerback Fred Smoot and safety Pig Prather receiving those accolades

Just two other cornerbacks that played for the Bulldogs were ever named All-Americans since the award was instituted in 1940. The other to join Smoot was Walt Harris in 1995.

 

Often challenged while opponents tried to stay away from Banks’ area, Slay was more than up to the task, as he registered five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown last season. He also deflected six tosses and rerouted his coverage assignments away from 36 other throws, as his area was targeted 57 times in 2012 (opponents completed 17.54% of balls thrown to Slay’s main assignments).

 

The two cornerbacks were not only capable pass thieves, but outstanding returners with those errant passes. Banks turned four interceptions into 124 yards in returns while his partner, Slay managed 101 yards on those five thefts. Now, both leave the university to join the ranks of the National Football League next season.

 

Slay actually was scheduled to play all four seasons alongside Banks, but failed to meet academic requirements after signing his national letter of intent to become a Bulldog during his senior year at Brunswick High School. During his prep playing days, he was an All-State selection as both a defensive back and running back, earning defensive honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and offensive accolades from the Georgia Sports Writers Association as a senior.

 

Slay received those accolades after making a triumphant return to the gridiron from a knee injury that cut short his junior campaign. He was an All-State honorable mention as a sophomore, rushing 1,127 yards on 142 rushes with 13 touchdowns that season. The next year, he gained 562 yards with six touchdowns, but in his fifth game, he suffered a medial collateral ligament tear, ending his season.

 

In 2008, he powered his way for 1,300 yards and fifteen touchdowns, earning an invitation to play in the Georgia North-South All Star Game. In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Slay also lettered in basketball and was a standout sprinter, competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

 

Slay would convert to cornerback full-time during his two seasons at Itawamba Community College. During those two seasons, he received All-State, All-Region 23 and All-MACJC first-team honors. In fourteen games on defense, he recorded 73 tackles with three forced fumbles, seventeen pass deflections and three interceptions.

 

“Darius had that ability that you can’t coach players to have,” said Itawamba College defensive back coach Tyrone Fox. “He has a nose for the football with a mentality that anytime the ball is in the air it’s his football and he’s going to go get it… it all came natural to him, but he still had a drive to get better and was always going the extra mile to keep improving.”

 

Even though Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma State heavily recruited him at Itawamba, Slay remained a man of his word and re-committed to Mississippi State, arriving on campus in 2011. He appeared in all thirteen games as a key secondary reserve, but in the nickel package, he managed to record 23 tackles with a forced fumble and four pass deflections. He also scored for the first time as a Bulldog on a 72-yard interception return in the Georgia clash.

 

As a senior, Slay took over field cornerback duties, starting all thirteen contests, as the member of Pro Football Weekly’s All-American squad posted 40 tackles, deflected six passes and blocked a kick. Among his five interceptions was a 52-yard return for a touchdown vs. Jackson State and a 31-yarder that set up a scoring drive vs. Auburn.

 

Still a relative unknown after that fine season, Slay would soon become a 2013 NFL Scouting Combine star. He caught most scouts and coaches in attendance by surprise after he turned in the top performance in the 40-yard dash for defensive backs with an official 4.36-second clocking in Indianapolis.

 

When the official 40-yard dash times came out, Slay’s 4.36-second 40 stood as the fastest, just edging out Alabama’s Dee Milliner, who was clocked at 4.37 seconds. Washington’s Desmond Trufant was timed at 4.38 seconds, while Southeast Louisiana’s Robert Alford and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor were both timed at 4.39.

 

“The rest of the country is buzzing about Darius’ performance at the combine, but we knew from the first day he stepped on campus that he possessed the talent, the desire and dedication that it takes to be one of the nation’s elite players,” said Itawamba College head football coach Jon Williams. “We are extremely proud of Darius and his performance at the combine, but we are even more proud to be able to call him a part of the ICC Family.”

 

CAREER NOTES

In two seasons at Mississippi State, Slay played in 26 games, starting thirteen contests at field cornerback…Recorded 63 tackles (40 solos) with two stops for losses of six yards, as he caused and recovered a fumble…Deflected ten passes and had six interceptions for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns…His two pass thefts returned for scores are one shy of the school career-record of three that is shared by Johnthan Banks (2009-12), Derek Pegues (2005-2008) and Corey Broomfield (2009-Present).

 

2012 SEASON

Slay was named an honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly…Received All-Southeastern Conference second-team accolades from the league’s coaches, Phil Steele and The NFL Draft Report…Started all thirteen games at field cornerback, as he was credited with five interceptions, tied for seventh on the school season-record chart, as he returned those thefts for a total of 101 yards…Deflected six passes and blocked a punt…

Recorded 40 tackles (24 solos), including one for a 4-yard loss and recovered a fumble…

In his first start as a Bulldog, he picked off a pass and returned it 52 yards for a touch-down, as he also blocked a kick vs. Jackson State…Added four tackles while setting up a MSU touchdown drive with a 31-yard interception return vs. Auburn…Had six tackles (4 solos) and for the third consecutive game, his interceptions played a major role, killing scoring drives with a pair of thefts, as he also deflected a third-down pass and recovered a fumble inside the red zone vs. Troy…Recorded six more tackles (5 solos) and a stop for a 4-yard loss at Kentucky…Registered four stops in each of the Tennessee, Texas A&M and Louisiana State clashes…Stepped in front of a Tyler Wilson pass and returned the interception 15 yards vs. Arkansas.

 

2011 SEASON

Slay joined the Mississippi State program and the junior saw action in all thirteen games as a key secondary reserve…Recorded 23 tackles (16 solos) with a stop for a 2-yard loss and a forced fumble…Deflected four passes and intercepted another…Collected three tackles in his Bulldog debut at Memphis…Played his best game for the Maroon and White at Georgia, notching three tackles, a stop-for-loss, a forced fumble and returned a pass theft 72 yards for a touchdown, the tenth-longest pick-six in school history…Totaled six tackles and a pass break-up in the homecoming win vs. Tennessee-Martin…Credited with four tackles and a quarterback hurry at Arkansas…Registered two tackles and two pass breakups in the win over rival Ole Miss in the  Battle for the Golden Egg.

 

JUNIOR COLLEGE

Played two seasons (2009-10) for Coach Jon Williams and was twice named an All-Region selection, in addition to earning first-team All-State honors for both his defensive play and kick return talents by the Mississippi Association of Junior College Coaches…Also voted first-team All-Region 23 by the national coaches…Collected 32 tackles (27 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage, as he caused and recovered a fumble in 2010…Also deflected twelve passes, gained 99 yards with a touchdown on eight punt returns (12.38 avg) and had a 43-yard scoring grab on three receptions for 63 yards as a sophomore…

As a freshman, Slay was recognized as first-team All-State and All-Region 23 selection as a field cornerback and a second-team All-State pick as a kick returner…For the season, he recorded 41 tackles (36 solos) with 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and a pair of forced fumbles…Also deflected five passes and had three interceptions for six yards in returns.

 

INJURY REPORT

2007 Season…Slay missed the rest of his junior season after suffering a knee medial collateral ligament tear in his team’s fifth contest.

 

AGILITY TESTS

4.36 in the 40-yard dash…1.49 10-yard dash…2.47 20-yard dash…4.21 20-yard shuttle…

6.90 three-cone drill…35 ½-inch vertical jump…10’4” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times…32 ¼-inch arm length…9 3/8-inch hands…77 ¼-inch wingspan.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Attended Brunswick (Ga.) High School, where he was an All-State selection as both a defensive back and running back, earning defensive honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and offensive accolades from the Georgia Sports Writers Association as a senior…Received those accolades after making a triumphant return to the gridiron from a knee injury that cut short his junior campaign…Was an All-State honorable mention as a sophomore, rushing 1,127 yards on 142 rushes with 13 touchdowns that season…The next year, he gained 562 yards with six touchdowns, but in his fifth game, he suffered a medial collateral ligament tear, ending his season…In 2008, he powered his way for 1,300 yards and fifteen touchdowns, earning an invitation to play in the Georgia North-South All Star Game…Also lettered in basketball and was a standout sprinter, competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

 

PERSONAL

General Studies major…Resides in Brunswick, Georgia.

 

PLAYER STATISTICS

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
STATS GP GS TK SO AS FR FC INT TFL PBU SACK BK
2011 13 00  23  16  07  00  01  01  1.0-02   04  0.0-00  00
2012 13 13  40  24  16  01  00  05  1.0-04   06  0.0-00  01
TOTAL 26 13  63  40  23  01  01  06  2.0-06   10  0.0-00  01

 

INTERCEPTION RETURNS
STATS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG
2011  01      072 72.00  01    72
2012  05      101 20.20  01    52
TOTAL  06      173 28.33  02    72

 

SLAY GAME BY GAME LOG

2012 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

PBU

FC

Pres

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Jackson St. 09/01/12 Jackson St. 56-9

Yes

1

52

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Auburn 09/08/12 Auburn 28-10

Yes

1

31

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Troy 09/15/12 at Troy 30-24

Yes

2

3

0

0

6

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

South Ala. 09/22/12 South Ala. 30-10

Yes

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kentucky 10/06/12 at Kentucky 27-14

Yes

0

0

0

1

5

0

1

4

0

0

0

0

Tennessee 10/13/12 Tennessee 41-31

Yes

0

0

0

2

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Middle Tenn. 10/20/12 Middle Tenn. 45-3

Yes

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Alabama 10/27/12 at Alabama 7-38

Yes

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Texas A&M 11/03/12 Texas A&M 13-38

Yes

0

0

0

3

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

LSU 11/10/12 at LSU 17-37

Yes

0

0

0

3

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Arkansas 11/17/12 Arkansas 45-14

Yes

1

15

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Ole Miss 11/24/12 at Ole Miss 24-41

Yes

0

0

0

1

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Northwestern 01/01/13 Northwestern 20-34

Yes

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Season Totals

5

101

1

14

26

0

1

4

6

0

0

1

 

 

2011 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

PBU

FC

Pres

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Memphis 09/01/11 at Memphis 59-14

Yes

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Auburn 09/10/11 at Auburn 34-41

Yes

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

LSU 09/15/11 LSU 6-19

Yes

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Louisiana Tech 09/24/11 Louisiana Tech 26-20

Yes

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Georgia 10/01/11 at Georgia 10-24

Yes

1

72

1

1

2

0

1

2

0

1

0

0

UAB 10/08/11 at UAB 21-3

Yes

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

South Carolina 10/15/11 South Carolina 12-14

Yes

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kentucky 10/29/11 at Kentucky 28-16

Yes

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tenn.-Martin 11/05/11 Tenn.-Martin 55-17

Yes

0

0

0

2

4

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Alabama 11/12/11 Alabama 7-24

Yes

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Arkansas 11/19/11 at Arkansas 17-44

Yes

0

0

0

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Ole Miss 11/26/11 Ole Miss 31-3

Yes

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

Wake Forest 12/30/11 Wake Forest 23-17

Yes

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Season Totals

1

72

1

8

16

0

1

2

4

1

1

0

 

Data provided by Dave-Te Thomas, Publisher of the NFL Draft Reports for TonySoftli.com & Tony Softli Draft Board; Distributed by Scouting Services, Inc. © Copyright 2012/13 – All Rights Reserved; Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Scouting Services Inc. is strictly prohibited.