RECRUITING

New 2016 Notre Dame WR target Tyler Vaughns is nifty with his hands

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Enter Tyler Vaughns into the YouTube search bar, and plenty of highlight catches show up on the screen.

There’s the leaping one-handed catch against Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame High School. There’s a spinning one-hander from a seven-on-seven tournament. And there’s more touchdown catches than are worth counting.

The latest big catch for the 2016 wide receiver prospect from La Puente, Calif., came on Tuesday, when he snagged a scholarship offer from Notre Dame.

“I was really surprised and happy about it,” Vaughns said. “I'm not used to colleges like that looking at me over here. Most of my offers are from close to home.”

Vaughns may want to get used to the widespread attention. After a junior season in which he earned co-MVP honors in California’s talented Mission League, schools from all over the country will be taking note of the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder.

He caught 74 passes for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns for a 9-4 Bishop Amat squad. He also tallied 23 tackles and four interceptions on defense for the school that produced former ND standout receiver/returnman Joey Getherall.

Rivals ranks Vaughns as the No. 11 wide receiver in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him No. 16 at the position.

“I've been aggressive to the ball, running my routes hard and getting open for my quarterback and trying to produce for my team,” Vaughns said. “I think that's made an impression on coaches.”

And it’s hard to ignore those highlight-reel catches. Vaughns credits his three brothers for helping him develop strong hands over the years. But using just one hand to haul in a pass usually isn’t the plan.

“I don't try to do it,” Vaughns said. “In practice I'll try sometimes. But if it's in a game, it's more likely out of habit. It just happens out of the blue. It's whatever I can do to catch it on that play."

One thing the four-star prospect doesn’t catch is many college football games. The three-sport athlete (basketball and baseball in addition to football) doesn’t spend many Saturdays watching the teams that are now offering him scholarships.

That will change as the recruiting process unfolds for Vaughns. He did attend Notre Dame’s regular-season finale at USC. The 49-14 loss wasn’t pretty for the Irish, but Vaughns doesn’t plan to hold that against them.

“I know Notre Dame didn't have most of their starters in on defense because they were hurt,” Vaughns said. “I really didn't take that as a loss for them, because they didn't have a majority of their players."

The offer list for Vaughns hit double digits in the past week. Notre Dame and Tennessee joined the likes of USC, UCLA, Washington and Oklahoma. With the new offers, Vaughns will start planning unofficial visits with his family for next year. Above all, Vaughns said academics will play the biggest factor in his eventual decision.

"My mom always says academics always comes before anything,” Vaughns said. “School before football. I have to go with that.”

With Notre Dame now on the list, Vaughns will have to start thinking about the Irish as a realistic option. He has more than a year to figure out if he wants to take them up on their offer.

"I've been in touch with some of the coaches from Notre Dame and have been talking to them for a little while,” Vaughns said, “but I never thought they were going to offer me.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame offered 2016 wide receiver Tyler Vaughns earlier this week (Photo courtesy of Student Sports).