Always a solid kicker in high school and college prior to a nightmare game at LSU, Vaughn has turned into a kicking game weapon for the Tigers. Last year's loss to LSU was the driving force behind his transformation this season.
It was a painful thing to watch for anybody in orange and blue as Auburn fell 20-17 in overtime. When Vaughn's fifth and final miss clanked off the upright and fell to the Tiger Stadium turf it set off a wild celebration in Baton Rouge for LSU fans. As hard as it was to take for Vaughn because of all the abuse he suffered in the following days, it also was a moment that Vaughn would never forget because it drove him to his current success.
Determined to become a player remembered more for his makes than misses, he set out to make sure when the time comes again that he'll be ready. Working hard to close the season strong, Vaughn made four of his last five field goal attempts to finishing the year on a high note. But that wasn't enough for the former Brentwood, Tenn., Academy standout.
Focused on becoming a more complete kicker, Vaughn exhausted every available avenue for knowledge and decided the first thing he needed was to become stronger and learn more about the techniques that make kickers successful.
"A lot of strength training with Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall)," Vaughn says of one of his offseason work habits. "I lost some weight in the offseason--that helped. I'm just getting more flexible. Flexibility was a problem for me last year. I gained a lot of strength and was kind of wound up. I also worked with a couple of kicking specialists down in Florida a little bit. And, I just watched film."
Vaughn lines up for a career long 55-yarder he drilled against Mississippi State last Saturday.
The results this season have been impressive, to say the least. After making 86 percent of his field goal attempts during preseason practice, Vaughn has been nearly automatic for the Tigers through two games. In the opener against Washington State, Vaughn made his first four kicks before missing a 36-yarder. Included in that was a career-long 52-yard boot. He bested that Saturday at Mississippi State with a 55-yarder that would have been easily good from another five yards. Vaughn says that getting stronger has made the difference in his game this season.
"That's the biggest difference," Vaughn says. "My whole life I haven't had a real strong leg. I always felt like I had to kill them. Now if I just hit it solid it will go. Hitting it solid is all you do on an extra point. If you feel like you're kicking extra points from 30, 40, 50 yards away it makes it a lot easier."
It has looked so easy so far for Vaughn he is leaving his name all over the football record book. Currently the SEC's active leader in PATs made and sixth all-time, Vaughn is busily re-writing Auburn records with each week. Sixth on Auburn's all-time list with a made percentage of .692, Vaughn is fifth in made field goals with 36.
Despite the numbers and records, when talking with the senior you get the distinct impression that he would trade all those for just one more shot against LSU this week. There's no doubt this is a game he's been ready to play for a long time.
"I guess you could say this one has been circled on the calendar for quite a while," Vaughn says. "It's just like any other game though--you can't get too high or two low for it. I'll just try to go out there and play loose. That's everybody's mindset on the whole team.
"I'm excited," he adds. "It's going to be a great game. They've got a great team. We'll just try to be ready."