Rookie Rundown: RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt

Rookie Rundown: RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt

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Rookie Rundown: RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt


Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was named the 2014 Gatorade Football Player of the Year when he left high school and committed to the University of Illinois. As a true freshman, he was their primary ball carrier with 157 carries while Josh Ferguson also carried 129 times. The Fighting Illini changed coaches to Lovie Smith and Vaughn fell out of favor in a three-man rotation while the team sunk to a 3-9 record. Vaughn elected to transfer to Vanderbilt in 2017 but sat out the season per the NCAA rules.

He again caught fire on his new team as the starter and ran for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns as the SEC Newcomer of the Year. He repeated with his second 1,000-yard effort as a senior when he ran for 1,028 yards and nine scores.

Height: 5-10
Weight: 214 pounds
40 time: 4.51 seconds

Vaughn totaled 66 catches for 648 yards and three scores over his college career and was good for a couple of catches per game as a senior. He ended his time in the NCAA having never played for a winning team, and the Commodores were only 3-9 last year.

Year Games Runs Yards Avg. TD Catch Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2015* 11 157 723 4.6 6 16 119 0 842 6
2016* 11 60 301 5.0 3 9 89 0 390 3
2018 12 157 1244 7.9 12 13 170 2 1414 14
2019 12 198 1028 5.2 9 28 270 1 1298 10



  • More mature after four seasons and will be 23 years old in May
  • Prototypical size for a running back
  • Good vision in picking holes and angles between the tackles
  • Strong runner with great leg drive
  • Powerful runner that runs with patience
  • Runs low to the ground and can absorb contact to net more yards
  • Viable receiver for check-down passes
  • Good first step burst
  • No speedster but can do damage if he breaks the second level


  • More of a straight-line rusher
  • Takes what he is given but not that creative or elusive
  • Only average as a pass blocker – at best
  • Lacks any “hang your hat on” traits, not elite in any measure
  • Less formidable when he has to change directions

Fantasy outlook

Vaughn enters the NFL as a likely Day 3 selection since he doesn’t offer more than being a reliable, one-cut runner. He was limited in college playing on below-average offenses and never enjoyed the benefits of having a talented cast around him. His level of play may not drop in the NFL, unlike other backs that ran behind great blockers and played next to a vaunted passing offense.

In today’s NFL, Vaughn projects as a back-up type but could offer a team value if needed. His success as a pro is contingent on falling to a team that already has a great offense and that provides a straight-line runner a better situation for early-down success. He’s not considered a threat as a receiver other than just being there for the quarterback as a final read dump-off.

Fantasy owners are less likely to see appreciable production from Vaughn as a rookie unless he falls into a very beneficial situation. He is more reminiscent of an average back with good but not great skills who can show up later in a season with value if the primary back is injured. But he’s not expected to jump into being an NFL starter right out of the box and unlikely in future years as well.





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