Former Pearl-Cohn High School standout running back and Nashville native Ke’Shawn Vaughn will transfer to Vanderbilt, he announced on Twitter Tuesday.
Vaughn, who has played for the Illinois Fighting Illini for the past two seasons, announced his intent to transfer from the program in mid-January.
— Ke'Shawn Vaughn (@ThaLa5tKing) January 31, 2017
“You see with these past few years, they’ve been getting better,” Vaughn told the Hustler in an exclusive phone interview. “With the running back situation, they have a running back [Ralph Webb] who is going to be a senior, so the year after that, once he leaves I’ll be able to compete for the starting position.”
The announcement comes one day before National Signing Day, when Vanderbilt will secure its 2017 recruiting class. On the eve of Signing Day, Vanderbilt ended up snagging one of its top targets from two years ago.
A highly-touted prospect in high school, Vaughn received an offer from Vanderbilt in 2015, but chose Illinois instead.
Vaughn said the chaotic state of Vanderbilt’s program in 2015, along with other factors, influenced his decision to go to Illinois. However, Vanderbilt has a new approach in 2017, and Vaughn is all about it.
“I just think it’s a new style,” he said. “I didn’t know really what was going on there [in 2015], plus I wanted to be away from home.”
He had a stellar first season with the Illini, rushing for 723 yards on 157 carries in his freshman year. However, he saw a steep drop in his carries to just 60 in 2016, and Reggie Corbin took the majority of snaps at the position.
He said that played a role in his decision to leave the program.
“Just how things went this season up at Illinois,” Vaughn said on his decision to transfer. “It didn’t work out for me.”
Vaughn has run the ball over 200 times in his college career but is coming into a run-heavy program. Vanderbilt’s starter, Webb, has run the ball over 200 times in each of his three seasons with the Commodores. Even Khari Blasingame, who converted to play running back this past season, ran the ball 97 times in 2016.
Vanderbilt’s run-heavy offense was definitely a factor in Vaughn’s decision and plays right into his skill set.
“Yeah, just running the ball kind of attracted me,” Vaughn said. “Pass blocking, I can do all of that, but a team that runs the ball, that’s an attraction.”
Due to NCAA regulations, Vaughn will have to sit out this upcoming season, but he will have two years of eligibility left after that. That sets him up to possibly take over for Webb as Vanderbilt’s starting running back after Webb’s final season in 2017.
While replacing Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher is a daunting task, Vaughn said he will put in the work in his off year to compete for the starting job.
“Just working on [learning the system],” he said. “Getting some extra work in, extra film, just making sure I know the playbook by the time practices start.”
Vaughn’s high school, Peal-Cohn, is just two miles from Vanderbilt Stadium. He said he’s ready to play in the city he calls home.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m ready to get back just to put on for my city.”