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Deuce Vaughn
NFL Draft

You Better Not Overlook Deuce Vaughn

  • Ryan Fowler
  • December 7, 2022
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At 5-foot-6, it’s easy to overlook Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn. A shorter-in-stature athlete with a larger-than-life skill set, watching him dominate the Big 12 over the last tandem of seasons has brought the Wildcats back to relevance. 

While his verticality won’t check anyone’s boxes as a potential bellcow at the next level from the hoof, flipping on the All-22 highlights an athlete that will quickly put doubters to bed.

If you can play, you can play, and the outliers in Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, and Boston Scott would nod their head in agreement. The comparisons start with Sproles, a fellow Kansas State product and a talent that became the first NFL player in history to amass 2,200+ all-purpose yards in four different campaigns (2008-2011). A fourth-rounder of the Chargers in 2005, he quickly rose to fame when he arrived in Philadelphia where he became a Pro Bowler in three consecutive seasons. Like Vaughn, his low center of gravity made him a nightmare to wrangle down in the open field, and his versatility consistently afforded him a path to snaps no matter the totem pole of running backs. 

Where this year’s Wildcats star stands out for me is in the passing game, where his one drop on 56 targets means he can holster a role in space on Sundays with comfortability. It’s another feather in the cap toward being a player that can wear multiple hats, and wear them well. And while his stature will indeed draw concerns no matter if he declares this fall or comes back to school in 2023, ignoring his high level of success against Big 12 competition would be ignorant to ignore. 

He’ll also outlift you in the weight room.

At 180 pounds soaking wet, Vaughn’s strength is evident when he runs. He’s known to press 225 pounds (NFL Combine standard) upwards of 20 times and he’s also squatted 425—long story short, he’s no walk in the park when having to take down. With more than 2,800 yards on the ground over the last two years, he averaged more than five yards a pop running in both a gap and zone scheme and has the wiggle and burst to sneak up on the second level before popping out in front of the closing safety. 

From a close lens, he’s fantastic, but finding that niche’ on Sundays will remain an ongoing experiment for teams in search of that chess piece.

For now, and how the league views him, he’ll be a heck of a complimentary talent at the next level. More than just a ‘change of pace’ ball-carrier that guys like Scott have been, the second man in a backfield that can catch the ball is a need in today’s game and Vaughn fits the script. Football is a big man’s game, that is well understood, but in a world where the league hangs its hat on physical traits and production at the highest level of the college game, Deuce Vaughn will be much more than an outlier.

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Ryan Fowler