Joseph, Vaughn lead stingy Shaw defense

SUMMIT, Miss. – Archbishop Shaw head coach Hank Tierney has just watched his team drop a practice game to South Pike High School at the Southwest Mississippi Community College 7-on-7 tournament. He's not too upset, though.

 It is a practice game after all, and he hadn't installed the shotgun offense his team was using until that morning.

Maybe Tierney has seen a crystal ball telling him the Eagles will advance to the championship game. Maybe he doesn't care about the success of the shotgun offense since his offense will use the familiar option scheme in the fall.

Or perhaps the reason Tierney can feel so confident after a loss is that he knows he fields one of the more talented teams in Louisiana highlighted by two defensive players who are considered among the best in the South.

Cornerback Sammy Joseph and linebacker Cameron Vaughn are billed as a two of the nation's top defensive prospects and are looking forward to a senior season that is likely to end with the Eagles making a strong run at the Class 5A championship. But before Shaw puts on the pads, there's the matter of this 7-on-7 tournament, and neither player is pleased with the way things went against South Pike.

"We've got to play solid in camps like this," says Joseph. "It's going to help me with the different aspects of my game. I'm going to play a tighter coverage and get better at all the things I need to do at my position."

Colleges recruiting Joseph (6-0, 174) already think highly of his coverage skills; he's already considering scholarship offers from LSU, Colorado, Florida, Southern California and Kansas State. That he will also play college football is no surprise given the fact that Sammy is a member of the Joseph family that has already produced five Shaw standouts who have gone on to collegiate football careers (Derrick; Terry, Mickey, Vance, Chris).

What separates Sammy from the rest of his family is that he shunned the chance to play on offense, where his predecessors made their mark at the skill positions. Tierney thought Sammy would make a good quarterback or running back and questioned Sammy about where he would like to play as a ninth grader.

"He told me ‘I've got enough quarterbacks in my family. I want to move,'" Tierney recalled.

Going against the grain worked out well for Joseph, who made the move to corner and quickly gained the respect of opponents. In most instances, quarterbacks and coaches chose not to throw his way but he still managed five pickoffs as a junior. One passer at the SMCC 7-on-7 camp learned his lesson the hard way later in the afternoon, as Joseph went above and over a receiver to intercept a pass. Even Tierney was impressed.

While Vaughn's athletic ability is also impressive, his academic performance is even more eye-catching. He's taking a 3.5 grade point average into his senior year and has already iced his ACT with a 26. His mental prowess comes in handy on the football field where Vaughn is required to make reads and assignments from the middle linebacker position.

"He's as mentally gifted as he is athletically," said Tierney. "There's really no limit to how much he can do, and he's only going to get better as the year goes on."

Vaughn will probably get bigger, too. He stands 6-3 and weighs 215 but could easily add another 10-20 pounds. And given his leanness, most of that will probably be muscle. He looks to once again lead the Eagles in the tackles department after totaling over 100 stops in 2000.

Quickness is another asset Vaughn possesses, and he put it on display at the 7-on-7 camp, picking up receivers out of the backfield with no problem and making a interception against South Pike to preserve a win that sent Shaw into the tournament championship game against Hahnville.

Colleges pursuing Vaughn include LSU, Southern Miss, Auburn, Florida and Notre Dame. Cameron's older brother, Chris, also played linebacker at Shaw and is on the roster at Southern Miss.

Like Joseph, Vaughn has not camped anywhere over the summer outside of 7-on-7 tournaments where they've represented Shaw. Tierney has traditionally emphasized his pre-season program during the summer and prefers that his players workout rather than camp.

"The Shaw coaches go to college camps and can show us what they've learned," said Joseph. "I know a lot of other schools don't have that luxury, and that's why we can be confident going into every game. We know we're going to have the better coaching. It's like being in a college program."

Joseph and Vaughn are not the only Shaw players with the potential to land in a college football program. The Eagles' option attack allows the running game to shine, and backs Brook Adams and Carl Castille have the potential to see scholarship offers. Although the ball isn't thrown his way much in the Shaw option, wide receiver Steve Dickerson could emerge as a prospect with some hard work on his part.

The same applies for one of the players paving the way for those backs. Lance Ancar is a tall, lean tackle with good athletic ability who stands out as a raw college prospect.

Back over on the defense, tackle Leo Deselle and strong safety Wayne St. Ann are expected to be big contributors in their senior year and could parlay that recognition into a possible college career.

While their individual performances are important to the team, Joseph and Vaughn readily admit those personal accolades are meaningless if Shaw doesn't challenge for the state championship. The Eagles got very close to that goal last season, posting a 12-3 mark and finishing as the runner-up in the always-tough New Orleans Catholic League before falling to West Monroe in the 5A finals.

"You know there's a standard of excellence when you play for Shaw," said Vaughn. "We plan to go to state every year and know that we can win district along the way. But whether we do that depends on how we prepare before the season." 

Carey a partial qualifier: Former Shaw quarterback Shyrone Carey came close to earning a qualifying score on his first attempt at the ACT but could never quite clear the hurdle on his successive tries. As a result, the one-time Tennessee commitment will be a partial qualifier when he enrolls at LSU next month. He will not be able to play as a freshman but can practice with the team. Carey will get that year of eligibility back is he graduates in four years. The same status applies to Ronnie Prude, a 2001 LSU signee from Shreveport's Fair Park High School/>

Chetwa in JUCO: Various recruiting sources have listed former Shaw receiver Ike Chetwa as a prospect for the 2002 signing class, but he won't be available to commit to a college until the following year. Chetwa was 19 years old upon completing his junior year at Shaw, meaning he was too old to play sports as a senior. Instead of sitting out of athletics for the year, he opted to earn his general equivalency diploma (GED) and enroll at Pearl River Community College. He plans to play football there for the next two seasons and move on to a four-year school in 2003.

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