The long, sometimes excruciating, wait is over for LaDerrick Vaughn, who signed with the Rebels last February, participated in some summer workouts and then was told he did not make it academically.
"It was tough having to pack my bags after getting settled in here last summer," said LaDerrick, a 6-2, 200-pounder who is penciled in as an outside linebacker for the Rebels. "There's been a lot of chaos and frustration I had to get through.
"When I got the word I would be able to come back here and play football, the frustration eased up. I just set my goals of being ready to go when this semester rolled around and forgot the problems I had getting here. It was just a life lesson that I had to adjust to and ride out."
Vaughn, rated the number 13 player in Tennessee his senior season at Manassas HS in Memphis, spent the first semester concentrating on getting eligible and working.
"I worked at FedEx and worked on my books," said LaDerrick, who turned 19 on January 13th. "It was good for me, in the long run, because I learned a lot about the real world and how you have to earn what you get."
Vaughn said he worked out at Manassas every chance he got so he wouldn't be physically unprepared when he did get to Ole Miss.
"I got enough of a taste of what it takes on the college level when I was here last summer to know I had to stay in shape, but I wasn't able to stay in top shape due to my work load. I was just minataining some conditioning the best I could," he explained.
LaDerrick is pumped up about starting the offseason workouts - they begin today - and feels he has something to prove this semester.
"All the guys I signed with have been here since August or before. I am behind and nobody here has seen me play. I feel I have to prove myself and the only way to do that is to work hard," he evaluated. "I'm a ghost right now - nobody knows who I am. I have a lot of catching up to do."
One thing Vaughn has going for him is something that sounds small but is very big to him. Relief.
"There was so much uncertainty first semester and a lot of pressure. It's a weight off my shoulders to be here. A lot of people helped me stay focused and I appreciate that more than they know," he said.
What will we see this spring when LaDerrick Vaughn hits the field?
"You will see a player who is getting a second chance and expects to capitalize on it," he said simply. "I have to show everyone the reason I'm out there - because I'm good enough to be out there."
Vaughn is penciled in as an outside linebacker, which suits him fine.
"In high school, I played some linebacker, quarterback, safety and wide receiver. I think I can be a fast linebacker in college and I think I have the frame to grow into the position," he noted. "I think I can gain 15-20 pounds of good weight between now and August and that will put me around 220, which is a little light, but a good starting point if I maintain my speed."
LaDerrick is soft-spoken and humble. You would be too if you had gone through the humbling experience he has survived.
"I just want to come in here and do my job and be the best I can be. I will remember what it took to get here and stay focused. Those are my goals. Ole Miss did not make a mistake by sticking with me and I want to give back to Ole Miss for the chance I'm getting," he closed.
LaDerrick Vaughn update
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