New Kicker Competing For Vacant Starting Spot

John Vaughn is expected to challenge Philip Yost during preseason football drills.

Auburn, Ala.--If John Vaughn shows the same kind of accuracy as a field goal kicker during preseason practice as he did as a high school star, Philip Yost could have some real competition for a starting spot.

Yost, a redshirt junior, is the favorite to take the vacant field goal kicking job held by Damon Duval for the past four seasons. Yost solidified his spot with a strong spring, but again must prove himself when the Tigers hit the practice field on Wednesday for the start of preseason drills.

Vaughn, a record-setting kicker from Brentwood Academy, was a three-time All-State selection who missed just five field goals in 44 attempts in high school. Under 40 yards, he was almost automatic, something that wasn't the case with Duval, who had a shaky senior season.

John Vaughn

"I came down here June 23rd and began working out with the team," Vaughn tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I have been working real hard. Everybody has been real nice. It is great here and I like it a lot. I got down here and really got to work and have gotten adjusted to the college atmosphere."

For an Auburn football player, the college atmosphere this summer has included some early morning wakeup calls. "I go to a 6 a.m. workout and work out with the team until about nine," Vaughn says. "Then I kick in the morning or afternoon after that. I have also been taking a class."

Vaughn used a one-inch tee in high school when kicking field goals and extra points, but must kick off the ground in college. "That has been going fine," he says of the adjustment. "It took me about a month to get going on it. I think I pretty much have it down. I started working on it in February or early March."

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says he won't hesitate to use a freshman as his kicker if Vaughn is the best man in preseason. Vaughn notes he didn't come to Auburn to be a backup so he is ready to challenge Yost.

"First, I want to do everything I can to help the team win games," he says. "I also want to fight to win a starting job. If that doesn't work out I will do whatever is best for the team, but I believe in setting my goals high. I believe that is achievable with a lot of hard work."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Vaughn says coming in early for workouts and a college class has been worthwhile. "I have met pretty much everybody on the team this summer," he notes. "They have been great. I have a lot of respect for everybody. They haven't treated me like a freshman. It has made the change going to college easier."...Playing college football isn't easy at Auburn, even for a kicker, Vaughn says. "I go through the whole workout with the rest of the team," he says. "They don't treat kickers special or anything like that. I have to run my sprint times with the tailbacks and quarterbacks. It is definitely a whole new world and extremely difficult, but I have worked hard and gotten through it. I am in the best shape of my life right now."

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