NFL Draft Spotlight: Chip Vaughn

Chip Vaughn is one of the most likable and energetic football players you'll ever meet. Pair that up with his 4.4-second 40-speed and a 6-foot-1, 221-pound frame and you'll quickly understand why he's one of the top safeties in this year's NFL Draft class. Learn more about him in this spotlight feature.

On a single play during his sophomore year, Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn changed the way the Deacons approached their field goal defensive strategy.

As Vaughn tells it, with Wake Forest clinging to a 14-13 lead, Duke was poised to win the game on a field goal attempt from six yards out with just six seconds remaining.

"I was in a starting rotation with two seniors at the time, and one of the starters went down at the end of the first quarter," he told "I was never on the field-goal block team before, and all year our coach said that as a safety, the only thing you had to look for is the fake."

But as he assessed the situation, Vaughn realized that it made no sense for Duke to try a fake from that close when all they needed was a chip-shot field goal.

"I decided to go up and jump and I blocked the kick. I think that jump-started my career as far as me having confidence," he said. "That was the first game where I played a lot of time, got into a groove, and then that kick sparked everything from there."

Photo:Wake Forest Athletics

While the coaching staff was ecstatic to see the win preserved, an old-school coach certainly could have faulted the young safety for making the decision to switch his assignment. But that didn't happen in Vaughn's case.

"After that, the free safety never checked for the fake again, he was always the designated jump guy," he said with a laugh. "I guess the coaches didn't have a kid who could jump that high before, but after I did it it, it was always in there. I guess I started a new field-goal block defense at Wake Forest."

Vaughn, whose first name is Clarence, has been called Chip ever since he was a baby.

"My real name is Clarence because I was born on the same day as my great grandfather, but I've been named Chip since I was a baby. My grandmother gave me the name because during the daytime I got real dark and at night I got light, so I changed colors like a chocolate chip," he said with a laugh. "So that's how it started and it's stuck ever since."

A double-major in sociology and religion at Wake Forest, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound defensive back grew up as a fan of the Green Bay Packers.

"That was only because my Pee Wee football team had the same colors and symbol as Green Bay, so I started liking them since I was about six years old," he said. "My favorite player was Brett Favre. I also liked Antonio Freeman, Reggie White, and Sterling Sharpe. There was a whole bunch of them."

Vaughn has worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, and he's visited the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders. The Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Giants all showed interest in him at Wake Forest's Pro Day. His 4.4-second 40 speed combined with his physical size have pushed him into the mix as one of the top safeties in this year's NFL Draft class.

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or contact him by email through this link.

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