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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshman Slavin making presence felt

Mike Christy
The University of Arizona football team takes part in morning practice Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010, at the Rincon Vista Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats look to reach a bowl game for the third season in a row with quarterback Nick Foles at the helm. (Photograph by Mike Christy)

Most freshmen come into training camp wide-eyed — intimidated by the bigger, faster, stronger athletes and the ramped up intensity of college football.

But not freshman receiver Tyler Slavin.

The 6-foot-2 wideout from Roosevelt High School in Fresno, Calif., came into camp confident and focused, and is turning heads just weeks into his college career.

“”He’s very developed for his age,”” said junior speedster receiver William “”Bug”” Wright. “”He’s doing a great job. He’s catching the ball when it’s thrown to him; he’s running great routes. I see a lot of potential.””

Slavin doesn’t act like or have the aura of your average freshman. He’s calm, self-assured and focused on progressing as a team player  rather than being caught up in the glamour of collegiate athletics.

He wasn’t a big-name recruit – three-star and unranked by — but took advantage of first-team reps as No. 1 receiver Juron Criner recovered from a concussion.

After only a few practices, players and coaches alike could tell that Slavin could play. When fellow receiver Travis Cobb was asked who had impressed him most halfway during the camp, he responded, “”I say Slavin.””

“”He’s made some plays. He has good hands,”” Cobb added. “”I’d like to see what he can do.””

Although it’s obvious that Slavin wasn’t expected to impress like he has so soon, the soft-spoken receiver doesn’t get caught up in the praise.

“”I can always go more far and beyond,”” Slavin said. “”I’m always high on myself. I always say I’m my own worst enemy.””

He isn’t a physical specimen like Criner or Dan Buckner, both 6-foot-4,  and doesn’t possess the speed of Wright or Cobb, as he ran a 4.6 second 40-yard dash out of high school.

But Slavin uses his smarts and precise route running to be effective.

He’s a thinking receiver — he finished high school with a 3.8 GPA and aspires to enter the medical field — rather than the “”lob it up and watch me go get it”” type. He cited his hands, speed and ability to “”disguise his routes”” as his biggest strengths and considers himself a deep threat down the sideline.

Although he wears No. 11 because of Cardinals’ wideout Larry Fitzgerald, Slavin models his game after Bengals’ receiver Terrell Owens. Slavin made it clear he doesn’t have the same mouth and attitude as Owens but likes the way he works on the field.

“”I try to just watch his routes, see what he’s doing, see how he works with the ball in the air and just kind of mimic him,”” he said.

Slavin came to the UA with high school teammate and fellow receiver Austin Hill — also a three-star recruit. Co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish recruited the duo, but each made individual decisions in regards to becoming a Wildcat

“”It was completely individual,”” Slavin said. “”We were just going to support each other no matter if we went separate ways or not.

“”We are going to be best buddies throughout this whole college year,”” he added. “”Watch each other’s backs.””

The 6-foot-3 Hill will most likely redshirt, as Slavin will compete for consistent playing time, especially with the dismissal of Delashaun Dean. But regardless of how much playing time each garners in 2010, the pair of high school teammates will make an impact on the Arizona Stadium field for years to come.

“”They can play. They’re smart receivers. They’re making plays out there,”” said junior quarterback Nick Foles after the sixth practice of the season. “”A lot of guys that young, they drop balls, they break down. They’ve been consistent. They’re going to be great receivers for this program, I think, this year and for the future.””








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