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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State has had a good track record with junior college transfers and cornerback Darius Slay is shaping up to fall into that category.
Before coming to MSU, Slay spent his first two years of college playing for coach Jon Williams at Itawamba Community College in Fulton which Slay is thankful for.
"(Williams) was already preparing me for the D1 level," said Slay. "I thank him for that."
With two years under his belt, Slay has to go though a different development process that the normal football player coming into a program. It's normally a four-year building process where the coach works them onto the field slowly, but with Slay it's a more rushed development.
The different steps that first year players have to go through to get playing time isn't what MSU head coach Dan Mullen is doing with Slay.
"With Darius, you skip those steps," said Mullen. "He had the one offseason this summer and he worked really hard at it and the first couple games we really tried to get him on a lot of special teams to get him use to playing and the speed of the game."
Slay got his first on field reps at cornerback in Georgia on Saturday and made his presence known by intercepting a pass and returning it 72 yards for a touchdown. Slay, who is from Brunswick, Ga., was happy to get to do something big in his home state.
"I wanted to go home and give my family something to see," said Slay. "We were in man coverage, so I already knew what route he was going to run, so I just read it."
Slay making his debut in his home state wasn't planned.
"I never thought about it," said MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. "I've always looked at it, do you prepare well and we saw he was extremely prepared to go play well. The standard will go up this week, because we just saw that he could do it."
The former JUCO All-American's pick six shows that with Corey Broomfield dealing with an injury, the Bulldogs can rely on Slay to get the job done.
"I was pleased with how he performed on Saturday," said Mullen. "There a bunch of things we still have to clean up with him, but he's giving us some more depth at the corner position."
The depth provides comfort for Wilson, but now he is expecting more out of Slay now that he has seen what he can do. Wilson knows that Slay's time is limited and he feels Slay could succeed more on special teams than he has already.
"It's nice to have depth and Darius not only can help us on normal scrimmage downs but on the special teams," said Wilson. "He's got speed maybe he can be a returner, maybe he can be a guy who blocks punt, blocks kicks. He's only got 18-19 months of college football left so we need to give him every opportunity to showcase his ability."
Slay has been on special teams all season and it's not anything that's new to him as he spent some time as ICC's punt and kick returner. He has yet to be a part of the Bulldogs return game but with his speed, it is an option.
"They already knew I had a lot of speed on me, so they've started putting me on punt return in practice," said Slay. "I'm going to be ready any time they throw me back there. I feel comfortable doing that and that's were the times I made big plays there (ICC)."
Slay feels his special teams play is responsible for him getting into the game last Saturday, but another reason for his success could be the mindset he had going into the game.
"I was prepared and had my mind set to come in and make plays," said Slay. "That's what I had my mind set to do so that's what I did."
He admits to watching his pick six from Saturday on YouTube over and over again, but his goal is more than just touchdown plays.
"I want to be the best player I can become," said Slay. "Whether that leads me to the NFL or just getting a great job. I come in and work hard to get better everyday."