CUTigers.com continues our countdown to kickoff series by taking a look at defensive end Khaleed Vaughn. The Atlanta native is listed as the starting left end headed into fall practice, but he'll need to improve on his 4-sack total from a year ago if the Tigers' front four is to have any success in 2003.
Vaughn has been a mainstay on the defensive line in each of the last two seasons. He's been voted as a first-team Academic All-ACC in 2001 and 2002 and was voted the defensive rookie of the year by the Clemson coaches in 2000. Khaleed was an All-Metro selection by Atlanta Journal Constitution his senior year at North Atlanta High School.
Vaughn has to become one of the leaders up front this year if the Tigers are going to improve their ability to get pressure on the quarterback. That shouldn't be too difficult for the rising senior, as he has become easily one of the most vocal players on the practice fields. The Georgia native is listed ahead of Vontrell Jamison and redshirt freshman Gaines Adams headed into fall practice.
Vaughn saw limited action this spring after suffering an injury in the weight room that required arthiscopic surgery before the start of spring practice. However, he recovered in time to record 4 tackles in the Orange & White game in early April.
Khaleed played in almost 650 plays in 2002, finishing the year with 60 total tackles, including 6 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. He also added 18 quarterback pressures, which was second on the team. Vaughn has always played well against archrival South Carolina, as he tied a season high with seven tackles against the Gamecocks in Death Valley.
Vaughn was one of the most improved players on the Clemson defense in 2001. He finished the season tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with nine and sixth overall in tackles with 64.
A large part of the Tigers' success on defense in 2003 will depend on the front four. Vaughn, who has seen more action in each of the last three seasons than any other returning player on the line, will be depended on to set the tone this year. In other words, he has to drastically improve on his 4-sack total from a year ago if the Tigers are planning on stopping anybody.