NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This was not how Ke'Shawn Vaughn envisioned 2020 would go when he turned down the NFL Draft a year ago to return to Vanderbilt. The worldwide spread of COVID-19 means his training for this year’s Draft was abruptly cut short in March, so now he awaits his fate at home, waiting to see how the pandemic affected his draft stock?
“I’ve only been thinking about doing it different just because of the Corona stuff,” Vaughn said in a recent conversation from his home in Nashville. “That’s the only thing that made me like, ‘man, I should’ve come out last year.’ But I made the decision for a reason. I graduated in December, so I’m done with that. Actually, I was able to gain things from last season, too, like mental toughness.”
So whatever happens in this weekend’s Draft, Vaughn has no regrets about returning to Vanderbilt for his senior season.
As the workhorse on an offense and team that struggled, he proved himself to be more than just an explosive home run hitter. Vaughn showed he is dependable and durable, even through adversity.
That relentless attitude and mental toughness certainly served him well this spring when the entire Draft process, and his quest to improve his draft stock, were put on hold with the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s been crazy,” Vaughn said. “You ain’t able to get the full Draft experience that you dreamed about growing up. You ain’t able to visit teams, and then I wasn’t able to do Pro Day. That’s something that hindered me a little bit, but I was able to do the Senior Bowl and then the Combine. And then your film work will speak for you, too.”
The film will show Vaughn as the SEC’s most prolific running back over the past two seasons. His 2,272 yards rushing are more than any other back in college football’s top conference during that time. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and proved himself as a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, especially this past fall when the Vandy passing game often bogged down while utilizing a carousel of quarterbacks.
Vaughn was only on the Vanderbilt roster after transferring from Illinois after his sophomore season. A move that paid off when he became the team’s featured back and climbed up Draft charts, solidifying himself as one of the top 10 running back prospects in this year’s class.
“I think it was the best decision I could’ve made,” Vaughn said of his decision to transfer back home to Nashville. “I was able to come here, compete with some of the top guys and make a name for myself.”
Vaughn’s projected to be taken in Friday’s third round. Not bad for the former Pearl-Cohn standout athlete that always dreamed of making it to the NFL.
“Being able to give kids a role model, someone to look up to that comes from where they come from (means a lot),” Vaughn said. “Me, personally, I had nobody in the position that I’m in that I could look up to, so being able to be that figure for them is something I take much pride in.”
But while getting drafted will be a thrill, Vaughn’s ready to get out of the house and get back to work. The running back that’s been fueled by doubt all his life still has that chip on his shoulder.
And he’s ready to prove just how good he can be as a running back at the next level.
“I’m just ready for my name to be called, ready for my phone to ring,” Vaughn said of his anticipation for the Draft. “I’m just ready to go play, put my name out there and show them why I was the best back in this class.”