Straight path leads to success for Vaughn

Yvonne Vaughn will tell you her son is not a football player.<br><br>Playing football, she'll tell you, is just something he does very well.

Playing football, she'll tell you, is only a past time. Playing football, she'll tell you, doesn't make a boy a man.


Her son is not a football player.


Cameron Vaughn, LSU's savvy freshman linebacker, is what he is today -- a leader, a gentleman, an honor student -- because he had no choice.


Growing up under his mother's roof, the kid was reminded every day that taking care of his business off the football field was more important than making tackles on it.


"They always wanted to play sports," Yvonne says of her three sons. "I told them, 'If you want to play sports, you've got to do you're job, which is to make the grades and take care of your business.'"


Yvonne's middle child, the state's top linebacker prospect as a senior at Archbishop Shaw, graduated from high school in 2002 with a 3.8 grade-point average. He's already earned six credit hours at LSU, where he spent the summer getting acclimated to the college world.


Now comes the next step in the life of Cameron Vaughn: Hunting down ball-carriers and breaking up passes in Tiger Stadium. And if the first two weeks of fall practice were any indication, LSU fans can except No. 46 to become a fixture on the Tigers defense for years to come.


"Cameron Vaughn is a guy who's extremely bright, learns quickly, has good size and athleticism and hopefully might be a guy that might be able to help us a little bit depth-wise at linebacker," says LSU coach Nick Saban, who beat out Notre Dame and Texas in a recruiting battle for Vaughn last winter.


The days when a college football player could survive on physical talent alone are long gone. The recent influx of multiple set offenses, quick pass plays and sophisticated defensive schemes have transformed the helmet-smacking battle within the sidelines into the type of mind game that would leave most math professors scratching their heads.


If you plan on getting involved in this modern-day brand of gridiron wars, don't go to practice confident your car-lifting strength and gap-closing speed will gain you a starting spot.


Though an ability to make jaw-dropping plays can come in handy, it's an understanding of the game that will earn you playing time early on.


Because Vaughn has shown a penchant for executing his assignments like a veteran, LSU's coaches say they'll likely count on him to provide depth within the linebacking corps. In fact, he is challenging Lionel Turner for a starting spot at weakside linebacker according to Saban's comments following last Saturday's scrimmage.


"He's intelligent beyond his years," says defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. "All signs point to him helping us out this year, but that remains to be seen."


Speaking with Vaughn, you get the impression he would seem more comfortable wearing a business suit and reading glasses than a rack of broad shoulder pads and gold football pants. He answers questions with clear, thoughtful answers and offers a firm handshake to strangers who approach him.


He doesn't act like a football player. Then again, he wasn't raised like one.

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