Deuce Vaughn, the second best rusher in Kansas State football history, played his last game as a Wildcat.
Vaughn, a two-time consensus All-American as an all-around defenseman, announced on social media on Monday that he is spending his senior season and entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
Vaughn rushed for 1,558 yards this season, moving up to second in the school career rankings with 3,604. Only former All-American and K-State Hall of Famer Darren Sproles had more with 4,979 from 2001-04.
Vaughn’s 1,936 all-around yards this year — he also caught 42 passes for 378 yards — propelled him to second place all-time for the Wildcats with 5,029, which, again, trails only the total of 6,812 from Sproles.
Vaughn, who has repeatedly brushed off questions about his future until the end of the season, made his announcement two days after rushing for 133 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown, in the K’s 45-20 loss. -State in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
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K-State finished the season with a 10-4 record, which included a 31-28 overtime win over TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Vaughn, a 5-foot-6, 175-pound junior who wasn’t heavily recruited from Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, Texas, announced his decision in a letter to Wildcat Nation, thanking his teammates, coaches and fans for their support. during his K-State career.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play this game and the platform to inspire,” he wrote. “Kansas State University is a special place and I’m honored to have represented Powercat for the past 3 years.”
He concluded his statement with the decision dreaded by K-State fans hoping he would complete his four years as a Wildcat, although it certainly wasn’t unexpected.
“After careful consideration and deliberation, I have decided to forfeit my senior season and declare myself for the 2023 NFL Draft,” he wrote. “I am thrilled to embark on this new chapter of my career and pursue my life’s dream.”
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Vaughn paid tribute to the fans, who throughout his career shouted “Deuuuce” every time he touched the ball in anticipation of another showpiece game, of which there were many in his career.
“To the best fans nationwide, I can’t thank you enough for the support throughout my journey here at K-State,” he said. “The love you give not only to me but to this program does not go unnoticed.
“The impact you all have had on my life is hard to put into words. All I can say is that I’m so grateful.”
He also shared his thoughts on everyone directly involved with the Wildcat program.
“To all my teammates over the years, you are all my brothers and have impacted my life in ways I will never forget,” Vaughn wrote. “I’m not the person I am today without all of you. We have a bond that can never be broken and relationships that will last a lifetime.
“To my coaches and support staff, you believed in an undersized kid coming out of high school, and for that I am forever grateful. Not only did I learn a lot about this game, but also what means being a man. I’m lucky to have been part of a culture that will win championships for years to come.”
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K-State head coach Chris Klieman summed up his thoughts on Vaughn while sharing the stage with him and for the Sugar Bowl postgame press conference.
“I was the only smart one to sign this kid, because no one else did,” Klieman said. “And he was pretty special to me and always will be.”
Partly because of his size, or lack thereof, Vaughn is expected to make the mid-rounds of the NFL Draft this spring. But given the running back’s shorter career span and the fact that he had nothing left to prove at the college level, the decision came as no surprise.
Vaughn has undoubtedly helped his stock in K-State’s last three games, rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown in the regular-season finale against Kansas and 130 with another score in the Big Championship game. 12 before crowning him in the Sugar Bowl.
Vaughn’s heir apparent would appear to be DJ Giddens, who rushed for 518 yards and six touchdowns this season as a redshirt rookie, including 67 yards in the Sugar Bowl. He also had three catches for 48 yards against Alabama, giving him eight for 98 yards this season.
Arne Green is based in Salina and covers Kansas State University sports for the Gannett Network. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @arnegreen.