By Brad Locke / NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State has lost a number of commits this month, but Darius Slay is one who’s had eyes only for the Bulldogs.
He picked MSU two years ago out of Brunswick (Ga.) High School, signed a letter of intent on national signing day, and was ready to come to Starkville. But academic issues forced Slay to go the junior college route, and he’s spent the past two seasons at Itawamba Community College.
Not once during his time in Fulton has Slay, a cornerback and kick returner, wavered from his commitment to MSU, even when other SEC schools came calling.
“Darius made it known to us as his coaches that he wasn’t interested in anyone else except for Mississippi State and has basically been committed to them from Day 1,” ICC head coach Jon Williams said.
The commitment has been mutual, and Slay will sign with the Bulldogs – again – on Wednesday.
His time at ICC has been beneficial in more than one way. Slay has buckled down and gotten his grades up, and he expects to get his two-year degree before reporting to MSU on June 1.
Slay excelled on the field as well. Last season, he made 32 tackles and was avoided by most quarterbacks. He held East Mississippi receiver Patrick Patterson, formerly of Ole Miss, to zero catches.
“He played really well as a freshman and kind of made a name for himself so much that in his second season, everyone knew who he was,” Williams said. “A lot of people stayed away from him. The corner opposite from him got a lot more work in than Darius did on game day.”
Slay also returned eight punts for 99 yards and a touchdown, and he played a little receiver, taking his first catch of the season 47 yards for a touchdown against Northeast.
“It made me a better team player,” Slay said of his juco experience. “In high school, I was the main attraction, but when I came to juco, they had a lot of talented athletes on the team.”
It’s helped Slay realize that he needn’t worry too much about what position he’ll play at MSU. He prefers receiver but will likely wind up on defense.
“I really would like to be a receiver, but I’ll just play whatever gets me on the field the fastest,” he said.
Williams thinks Slay is built for the cornerback position, at which MSU returns a lot of experience next season. The coach noted Slay’s ability to close on the ball, which he said is “better than any I’ve ever seen.”
Williams added, “He’s definitely got the ‘it’ factor. He’s got all the intangibles you want in a guy that plays that position. He’s not a flamboyant type guy, but then again he’s not quiet, either. He’s very confident in his abilities.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.