Film study: Notre Dame CB signee Donte Vaughn
CB Donte Vaughn, 6-3, 195; Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven.
The numbers: Vaughn manned the secondary for a defense that allowed only 13.6 points per game in his senior season at Whitehaven. The Tigers (12-2) finished the season with a loss in the TSSAA Division I Class 6A state semifinal.
The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 20 safety. 247Sports – Three stars, No. 33 cornerback.
First impression: Vaughn is a long-limbed defensive back with the potential to be a shutdown cornerback. His size and athleticism should allow him to handle man coverage on big receivers. Vaughn could also be a safety, but his ceiling looks higher at cornerback.
Strengths: Vaughn can take control of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage with his long arms. He shows little fear in man coverage. He puts himself in a position to make plays in zone coverage. His long strides allow him to keep up with receivers and make up ground. As a tackler, Vaughn is aggressive in wrapping up the ball carrier in the open field. Vaughn has excellent football intelligence reading an opposing offense. Vaughn has ball skills that rival the receiver he’s covering. His ability to make a play on the ball can frustrate his opponents.
He did what? (1:10) The receiver gets behind Vaughn, as it appears he’s playing zone coverage. But as soon as Vaughn recognizes the pass is being thrown deep to his receiver, he retreats and beats him to the ball to make a leaping interception … (1:23) As the widest cornerback to the far side of the field, Vaughn keeps his eyes on the two additional wide receivers to his side. He leaves his receiver to jump the route and intercepts a poorly thrown pass … (2:10) Vaughn shows his tenacity as a tackler by laying a lick on the quarterback as he’s running near the sideline.
Competition level: The crop of talent in Tennessee has been on the rise in Notre Dame’s eyes in recent recruiting cycles. The Irish offered seven prospects from the state in 2015 and have already extended offers to six recruits in the 2016 class. Vaughn’s biggest matchup of his senior season came against Oregon wide receiver signee Dillon Mitchell, the No. 1 recruit in the state according to Rivals. Vaughn and the Whitehaven defense did not allow Mitchell to score a receiving touchdown in the game despite Vaughn tallying 107 yards in a 40-27 losing effort. Mitchell caught 18 touchdowns on the season. Whitehaven was almost always the more talented team on the field. The loss in the semifinals came to the eventual state champion, Ravenwood.
Left to prove: The biggest hole in Vaughn’s game is his ability to change directions quickly. At times, he takes too many steps to redirect when a receiver makes a cut. He will need to sharpen that skill at Notre Dame. Otherwise, Vaughn should be able to develop nicely for the Irish as he improves his speed and strength. Being able to cover the small, shifty receivers will need to be a part of his game.
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