Darius Slayton, the 4-star receiver from Greater Atlanta Christian, is expected to finalize his college decision by 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the latest.
Slayton will either stick with last month’s commitment to UGA or switch to Auburn. He’s rated as the state’s No. 16 overall college football prospect.
It’s one of the state’s biggest recruiting stories for signing day, and his mother, Pamela Slayton, talked to the AJC on Tuesday:
Where do things stand right now with your son? “It’s tough right now. It’s the biggest decision that he’s ever made in his life. We’re just trying to support him in it. And let it be his decision. It’s tough, and I’m not even quite sure if he has made it yet. But signing day is in the morning, so it’s upon us.”
What threw a curve ball into everything over the last week? “I honestly don’t know. Sometimes, he’s not very forthcoming, even with us as his parents. We try not to push him too hard. We try to let him process things on his own. But he is one who looks at things. He examines things. So I’m just not 100-percent sure what has gotten him here, but we’re trying to support him.”
Darius originally was going to make a return visit to UGA this past weekend, but changed his mind. What exactly changed it? “We decided as a family that we wanted to have some quiet time with him this weekend before signing day. As a family, we decided that it would be best. He was planning on visiting UGA, though. It was the last weekend before signing day. It was a time to mediate and pray, along with having an opportunity to talk with his family. He’s a young man. He’s 18. This decision is going to impact his life, going forward. It’s not as easy as people think it is. It has been tough on him. He’s a good kid, and he’s doing the best he can right now. But it has been tough on him.”
What’s the main attraction to stick with UGA? “I think the opportunity to play. He went to some camps there, and had the chance to interact with Coach Ball, who is the receivers coach. He impacted my son. He’s good. And Darius felt good with working out for him at the camps. So I think that kind of impressed him. Of course, Coach Richt and some of the other coaches there, they have let him know how much they really wanted him. He wants to play. So he feels like he’d have a chance to play there.”
UGA reportedly lost footing with Darius when Mike Bobo left. Is that true? “I guess. We know that coaches can leave. But it was a surprise. We heard about it on the news, so it was kind of a surprise. He had been instrumental in my son’s recruiting. He spent some time with Darius. It was a surprise, but we know those kinds of things happen. I think anytime you make a big decision, anybody is going to reflect and think. I just think that’s a lot of what’s happening now with Darius. He’s just reflecting and thinking, and wanting to be sure – for a situation where there are really no guarantees. But he’s trying to be as sure as he can be. This is just him looking back, reflecting, and trying to be sure about a big decision.”
What’s the main attraction to Auburn? “We have family history with Auburn, so that has always been a plus. They initially recruited him on defense, and his heart is really on offense. He wasn’t sure initially about that, but he figured out that his heart was always on offense. He wasn’t sure how he should be recruited, on offense or defense. He finally solidified that — that he wanted to play offense in college, and I think he felt like he could play at Auburn. He grew up watching Auburn because we have a family connection. So I think that pull was always there, for that reason. Of course, Auburn has a great program with great coaches. Dameyune Craig is their receivers coach, and he has been very instrumental with just sharing with Darius with the impact he can have at Auburn. It has been a positive experience. It has been a little unnerving, too.”
What’s the family connection to Auburn? “I had a cousin that played at Auburn. He was a linebacker (Darrell Crawford) in the late 1980s. And we have of friends that played at Auburn, too. I kind of grew up as an Auburn fan. So Darius watched a lot of Auburn football, too.”
So it became a tough decision when Auburn decided to recruit him as a receiver rather than a defensive back? “Even Georgia recruited him for defense, initially. Most schools did because of his size, his ball skills and his speed. He was attractive as a defensive back. But I think UGA did come back to recruiting him sooner than Auburn did as a receiver, which is what he has his heart set on playing.”
So there seems to be a lot of positives about both schools? “You can’t go wrong with either. I told Darius ‘You have two excellent choices.’ And I think that is what had made it difficult. You have two excellent choices. The main edge that Auburn has is the family connections and friends. We have friends and family there, so that’s a pull. That’s a plus.”
Have coaches from UGA and Auburn been understanding about this situation? “I think so. I’d have to say both Gus Malzahn and Mark Richt are really good people. They have been very understanding of what Darius is going through. They are doing their jobs. But they’ve certainly shown great kindness to our family. That’s the thing that makes it hard. You’ve got two awesome head coaches. It’s a hard decision.”
Will Darius sign on Wednesday or wait until a later date to sort things out? “No, he’s going to sign on Wednesday. He may already know in his mind right now what he’s going to do. Even when decided to commit the first time (in December), he already had it in his mind before he told us. I’m sure within himself, he already knows what he’s going to do. He keeps things close. But he probably already knows. I think our school is having a ceremony that starts at 7:30 in the morning. I’m thinking he will sign then. But we’re leaving it up to him. It’s his choice. It’s his life. We can’t take a snap for him or catch a ball. So this is his decision, and we’re just trying to support him.”
What will be the most important things in his final decision? “He has always said that he wants to play. He wants the opportunity to play his freshman year. He has always said that. Of course, a good education is important. He wants to go to a good football program. But he wants to play. He’s used to playing, and that’s what he wants to do. I think that’s going to be big for him.”
How are you handling this? “My stomach has been in knots all week. But we love him, and he’s a good kid. We know he’s going to make the best choice.”
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DID YOU MISS THIS FROM YESTERDAY?
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