|Position:||Running back, return specialist|
|Date of birth:||March 12, 1970|
|Place of birth:||Florissant, Missouri|
|NFL Draft:||1991 / Round: 5 / Pick: 112|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Jonathan Stewart Vaughn (born March 12, 1970) is a former professional American football player who played running back and served as a kick returner in the National Football League (NFL) for four seasons from 1991 to 1994 for the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs. In his most productive season, he led the 1992 Patriots in rushing and led the NFL in kickoff returns with a 28.2 yards per return average on twenty returns. Vaughn was the tenth NFL player to accumulate four kickoff return touchdowns during his career and the second to accumulate kickoff return touchdowns for three different teams. Vaughn measured 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) and 203 pounds (92 kg) during his NFL playing days.
Prior to declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft despite remaining eligibility, Vaughn had starred in the Big Ten Conference for the University of Michigan Wolverines earning Co-Big Ten Offensive Football Player of the year honors for the 1990 Big Ten Champions during the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. Vaughn had established new University of Michigan standards in 200-yard games and yards per carry. He had also previously been a record setting Missouri high school sprinter who for nearly two decades held both the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) 100 metre and 200 metre records.
Vaughn was both born and raised in Florissant, Missouri, and attended McCluer North High School in Florissant. Vaughn's 1988 Missouri State High School 200 meter dash record time of 21.28 seconds stood until 2002. His state meet time of 10.44 seconds in the 100 metre event stood until 2007 as the Missouri High School record.
Vaughn had a short collegiate career for the University of Michigan Wolverines, but he played for back-to-back Big Ten Conference Champions. He accumulated rushing statistics in only sixteen NCAA games for the Wolverines over the course of two seasons. However, in his redshirt sophomore 1990 season he was selected Co-Big Ten Offensive Football Player of the year (along with University of Iowa Hawkeyes players Nick Bell and Matt Rodgers) by the conference's coaches when he started 11 of 12 games. Vaughn, who wore #25 for the Michigan Wolverines football program in 1989 and 1990, played running back after redshirting as a defensive back who wore #46 in 1988.
Vaughn has claims to several important distinctions in University of Michigan Football history. First, he continues to hold the University of Michigan career yards per attempt record (minimum 200 attempts). Second, he opened the 1990 season by posting 201 rushing yards on September 15, 1990 against University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish and following it up with 288 rushing yards against the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins on September 22, 1990 at the Big House. This feat made him the first Michigan back to rush for 200 yards in consecutive games, a feat not duplicated until Mike Hart did so in 2004. His third claim is that the 288-yard effort ranks third on the All-time Michigan single game rushing yards list (behind Ron Johnson's 347 yards in 1968 against the Wisconsin Badgers and Tshimanga Biakabutuka's 313 yards against the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1995). In addition to these claims, his 1,364 yards rushing that season still ranks 13th on the Michigan all-time single season rushing list. During that redshirt sophomore season he paired with freshman Ricky Powers who set the Michigan freshman rushing record later broken by Hart and who tied with Vaughn for a team-high five 100-yard rushing games although accumulating far fewer total yards than Vaughn.
During the 1990 season Vaughn was closely watched in the press. NCAA football rushing averages are calculated on a per game basis. Since Vaughn started the season with two 200-yard efforts, he was atop the rushing charts well into the season. He entered Michigan's seventh game the weekend of October 28, 1990 as the nation's leading rusher. Entering the eighth week he was averaging over 144 yards per game and was still second in the nation and first in the Big Ten. He only gained a total of 94 yards in his ninth, tenth and eleventh games combined and entered Michigan's bowl game as #11 in the nation. He ran for 128 yards in his final game and ended the season as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He also ended the season eleventh in the nation in rushing and second in the Big Ten with 112.4 yards per game.
Oddly, despite his eventual professional success as a kickoff returner, he never returned kickoffs in college. In 1990, Desmond Howard and Derrick Alexander shared the kick return duties. In 1989, Desmond Howard and Tony Boles shared the role.
He entered the 1991 National Football League Draft after his redshirt sophomore season, which began with him as the nation's leading rusher through the end of October. The season trailed off as Powers got much of the late season workload with four consecutive 100-yard efforts in Michigan wins. Vaughn was one of a relatively small class of underclassmen, headlined by Ragib "Rocket" Ismail to be approved in the NFL's second class of players allowed to declare themselves eligible for the draft despite remaining amateur eligibility. In addition to Vaughn, other headliners among the underclassmen were Herman Moore, Todd Marinovich and Rob Carpenter (who also played for the 1991 Patriots). John Vaughn was drafted with the first pick of the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Coach Dick MacPherson used him sparingly from scrimmage in his rookie year as Leonard Russell was the featured back for the 1991 Patriots. However, he had 34 kickoff returns, including one touchdown for an average of 21.1 yards in 1991. He also completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Marv Cook against the Houston Oilers on September 22, 1991 in what would be the Patriots only non-quarterback touchdown pass until Dave Meggett repeated the feat during the 1997 NFL season.
Although his totals were modest in New England, he led the team in rushing yards in 1992 with 451 yards on 113 carries. In addition, he had 20 kickoff returns for an average of 28.2 yards, including another return touchdown. This second kickoff return touchdown was the last by a Patriot until Derrick Cullors repeated the feat in 1997 against the Buffalo Bills. Vaughn had his first 100-yard rushing game in 1992 with 110 yards on 20 carries on November 22 in a 24–3 win against the New York Jets at home. In 1992, Vaughn had six fumbles on only 113 carries and 13 receptions, and five of the fumbles were lost to the other team.
After two seasons in New England, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for an undisclosed draft pick. During the 1993 NFL season, his workload was modest in the backfield with Chris Warren and John L. Williams, but when he got the chance to play for the 1993 Seahawks he rose to the occasion with a career best 131 yards on 26 carries. This was Vaughn's second and last 100-yard rushing game.
Vaughn spent most of the 1994 NFL season with the Seahawks, but he was released after having three fumbles on only twenty-seven carries. However, in December he was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1994, he did not accumulate statistics from the line of scrimmage either for the Seahawks or for the Chiefs, however he returned kickoffs for both teams and recorded a kick return touchdown for each, including a 91-yard runback against the Miami Dolphins for the Chiefs in 1994.
Over the course of his NFL career he ran back a total of 4 kickoffs for touchdowns. This ranked him tenth (2 short of the record six) in NFL history through the 2006 NFL season. He had been in a three-way tie for eight upon his retirement before the 1995 NFL season. His kickoff return touchdowns for three different teams tied Ron Smith for the NFL record, which was broken during the 2007 NFL season by Allen Rossum who posted a touchdown return for his fourth different team. In 1991, Vaughn averaged 21.1 yards per return on 34 returns, which ranked 10th among those with 1.2 returns per game. In 1992, Vaughn posted a 28.2 averaged on 20 returns to lead the National Football League (Deion Sanders was second at 26.7). Despite his success as a kick returner, he was released during training camp in 1995.
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