Auburn’s seniors enjoyed taking a backseat during December’s early bowl practices.
The coaching staff put the spotlight on the Tigers’ younger players with similar practices to how they were run in fall camp.
“It’s exciting to see those young guys getting reps and seeing what they can do and getting them prepared,” wide receiver Jonathan Wallace said.
One of the freshman Wallace kept an eye on was his roommate Darius Slayton.
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“Darius has been doing a really good job,” Wallace said. “He’s going to be a really good receiver in the coming years.”
Wallace sees Slayton as a future playmaker on the plains who is “really fast with great hands.”
The 4-star receiver out of Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia was one of the top 20 rated wideouts in the country. He had offers from many of top power five schools including Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, USC and Georgia.
Last year, Slayton switched his commitment from the Bulldogs to Auburn the day before national signing day.
Wide receiver was one of the positions Auburn emphasized for its 2015 Class. Slayton was one of three signees at the position.
“He's a big guy that can run,” Malzahn said last year.
The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder earned positive reviews for his steady development in training camp from offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
“Jason Smith is doing a good job and even a guy like Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis, those young guys you see now that things are kind of condensing and you’re getting more zeroing in on kind of condensing on specific game plans,” Lashlee said. “Those guys are playing faster.”
While Slayton didn’t crack Auburn’s lineup during the regular season, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t ready to see the field.
“Both of them have the talent to and they’re getting better,” Lashlee said early in the season. “As long as they’re progressing like that it’s our belief and I just think you keep bringing them along.”