MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Kansas State heads to Morgantown with one of the Big 12’s most menacing offensive weapons.
“Everything they do offensively is centered around Deuce Vaughn,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “He’s special.”
The junior tailback surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season last week against Baylor with a 106-yard performance against the Bears, tallying his second season with over 1,000 yards. He is second in the Big 12 with 1,347 all-purpose yards, trailing only Bijan Robinson of Texas.
He gave West Virginia trouble in 2021, scoring three touchdowns with 127 all-purpose yards as the Wildcats topped the Mountaineers 34-17.
Vaughn bears resemblance to another former Wildcat star, Darren Sproles. Standing an inch taller and weighing a listed four pounds heavier than Vaughn, Sproles became the Big 12’s all-time all-purpose yards leader as he damaged offenses as a rusher and receiver.
Vaughn is on a very similar trajectory, but with a heavier emphasis on his skills as a receiver. He isn’t quite as prolific as Sproles in his third year (Sproles averaged around 17 more yards per game as a junior), but his impact on the offense is quite comparable.
Both of them seem undersized (Vaughn is 5-foot-6 and 176 pounds) but they both are tough runners that were difficult to both catch and take down.
“[Vaughn is] really powerful for a guy that size…he’s got an extremely strong lower body, which makes him really tough,” Brown said. “You start talking about a strike zone, right, he’s got a really narrow strike zone to be able to tackle him, and then if you go really low, he’s extremely strong lower-body wise to run through tackles.”
Vaughn’s versatility adds to the challenge of stopping him. The Wildcats’ multiple offense requires him to run the ball like a traditional back, but he lines up all over the field to hurt defenses in all sorts of ways.
In fact, Brown has several different NFL comparisons that come to mind when he watches Vaughn.
“He’s an advanced route runner. I always think like Alvin Kamara that plays for the Saints, like he’s a really advanced route runner for a running back. Marshall Faulk with the Rams was a really advanced route runner.”
Vaughn has 266 receiving yards this season, but that number has trended upward in recent weeks. In the first six games, Vaughn averaged 12.3 receiving yards, but that number has jumped to a 48-yard average over the last four with four touchdowns.
Against Texas, Vaughn had 86 receiving yards — more than the 73 he gained on the ground.
“They put him on some option routes and they find mismatches for him, and he’s advanced,” Brown added. “He runs routes like seasoned receivers.”