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Slusher Has Become Vocal Leader for Razorbacks' Defense

Jalen Catalon's season-ending surgery has launched a new leader at free safety

After a rough start, Myles Slusher is starting to settle in at free safety.

No complaints. He had to take over when preseason All-SEC selection Jalen Catalon finally quit trying to play through a shoulder injury and had season-ending surgery.

Auburn picked on him — repeatedly — in his first start October 16 as the Razorbacks lost, 38-23.

"At first it was tough," he said after No. 21 Arkansas' practice Tuesday to face second-ranked Alabama on Saturday. "I’ve adjusted to it kind of well and being more vocal. So it’s coming along."

Slusher has gotten 24 tackles in his four starts. Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he recorded a tackle for loss, a half-sack and pulled down his first career interception.

In his first road start at LSU, Slusher had highest defensive grades, logging six solo tackles, had a perfectly timed pass breakup and came away with a diving interception of Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier.

"Coach told us all week that when they go twins and reverse to listen to him and it happened during the game," Slusher said. "I just did my job and it came out with an interception."

He's taken over as a leader on the defense and "super senior" linebacker Grant Morgan said after Tuesday's practice that has been a little surprising.

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"Nobody would have thought he could do that," Morgan said. "The way he’s progressed in the games that he’s played since Catalon has been out you wouldn’t really know that we’re missing somebody back there."

In other words, he's not filling Catalon's shoes.

"He’s a guy who’s really stepped up and they are his own shoes," Morgan said. "People say he’s got to fill those shoes all the time but he’s filling his own shoes. He’s doing really well and he’s doing a good job at it."

Now the task gets a little larger. Going to Tuscaloosa the Hogs will be facing what may be the second-best team they've seen (they did play No. 1 Georgia earlier).

"We go one game at a time, so it’s another game, honestly," Slusher said. "We’re going to prepare like we’ve been preparing the last few weeks. Really the whole season, and I really believe in what the game plan is for this week.

"So I believe that we are going in to win this game, whatever the outcome may be."

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