Sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn was electric in 2020. How will he elevate his game in 2021?
Saying that Deuce Vaughn racked up the accolades in 2020 may be an understatement. The young running back was a standout player for the Kansas State football team, earning recognition as the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-American, and Honorable Mention All-American.
After averaging 122 all-purpose yards every game as a freshman, Vaughn found himself on several awards watch lists in 2021. He looked to be a focal point of the Wildcat’s offensive attack, and certainly was against Stanford.
Vaughn racked up 124 rushing yards on 13 carries, averaging more than nine yards per carry. His first touchdown of the season came off a 59-yard run, gashing the Stanford defense.
Paired with the return of senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, the tandem kept the Stanford defense guessing with multiple read-option and play-action plays. Overall, the Wildcat’s rushing attack racked up 200 yards, which accounted for 58% of Kansas State’s offensive yards.
“Before the game, Coach [Chris] Klieman talked about believing in yourself and that’s what we did,” Vaughn said. “We believed we had a really good defense and really good offense and we came out here and we showcased that. Man, it’s something to build on… We could always get better. So many things to touch up. Great foundation win. Great team win. I’m so excited with this team.”
Thompson accounted for two of the three rushing touchdowns, but the Wildcat’s running back corps looked strong in AT&T Stadium. Even though the team improved down the stretch, Kansas State finished 74th nationally with 152 rushing yards per game in 2020. That same season saw Thompson lost early to injury and the Wildcat’s rushing attack lose its dual-threat backfield. Vaughn himself recognized the importance of having Thompson back in the fold.
“It showed me again how fantastic of a player he is; how smart of a player he is when we’re checking things and stuff like that and he’s putting everybody in the best possible situation to go and be successful on the field,” Vaughn said. “He’s a game manager without a doubt. I’m so happy to have him back.”
Vaughn’s season opener is a strong step in the right direction for his 2021 campaign. Kansas State will certainly continue to ride him down the stretch into Big 12 competition.