This week’s report is on somewhat of a forgotten man in the class of 2020. This is a 5’10, 218-pound redshirt senior running back with the burst, speed, vision, physicality, and receiving ability to be a stud at the next level. So, why is he so seldom talked about?
The Nashville native had an incredibly successful high school career which saw him rush for 2646 yards and 45 touchdowns in his senior year alone. Vaughn was a consensus four-star recruit, Mr. Football Tennessee and the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2014.
He began his college career at Illinois, seeking early playing time. As a freshman, he found it, rushing for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns on 157 carries against Big 10-caliber defenses. He also added 16 receptions for 119 yards.
As a sophomore, the Illini saw a shift in offensive scheme and Vaughn did not see the same amount of work, which led to his transfer back home to play for the Vanderbilt Commodores. It’s also worth mentioning that Vaughn was a Big-10 All-Academic during his time at Illinois.
As a transfer, Vaughn had to sit out a year – a year which he used to refine his game all around. It paid off and as a redshirt junior in 2018, Vaughn rushed for 1244 yards, 12 touchdowns, at a ridiculous 7.9 yards per carry clip. He added 13 receptions for 170 yards and two more scores.
Feeling he still had something to prove, Vaughn returned to Vandy in hopes to improve his draft stock. Given that he’s the clear focal point for defenses to key in on, it is arguable that Vaughn has, in fact, improved over last year. The yards per carry numbers are down but overall, he’s still been excellent, having gained 1280 yards from scrimmage for 10 total touchdowns through 11 games while playing a larger role in the passing game, nabbing a career-high 27 receptions. (Edit, 12/6: Vaughn closed out the regular season with a total of 1298 YFS and 10 touchdowns.)
Production aside, Vaughn passes the eye test on film, too. His talent pops off the screen. The first thing that jumps out to me is his burst. He hits the hole quickly and decisively, and his speed has to be in the 4-4s, maybe even better. If he gets past the defense, he’s gone.
He’s a physical runner, too, constantly keeps his legs moving, and can grind out tough yards between the tackles. A large proportion of Vaughn’s yards come after contact. More than one defender is required to bring him down and he’ll also gladly run a dude over if one gets in his way.
Along with being a strong, physical runner, Vaughn is quick and shifty enough to break runs to the outside and to make defenders miss in the open field. One play that perfectly illustrates this was one from the Vandy-LSU game on September 21st of this year, where Vaughn put a nice juke move on one of the nation’s best defenders, Grant Delpit. He side stepped the All-American safety and took the ball 52 yards to the house. Vaughn finished that game with 151 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
As a receiver, Vaughn catches the ball with his hands, not his body, and secures the ball away quickly. In pass protection, he’s not a great blocker, but he’s solid. Fumbles aren’t a problem either, as Vaughn has only lost two in his entire college career.
Overall, Vaughn is a really good, well-rounded player who is really flying under the radar and deserves a lot more chatter than he’s getting. This is a running back with a three-down skill set, talking workhorse potential here, and dynasty managers can acquire him for a discount. He will likely be selected in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft, but I would feel good about using a mid-second rounder in a rookie draft to acquire him.
You can find more information on Vaughn HERE.
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