Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn became the 16th commitment in the 2016 Notre Dame football class on Sunday when he offered his pledge to the Irish. The 6'3", 195 pound Vaughn is the kind of physical specimen that will allow Brian VanGorder to call more press man coverages. The 247 Composite has him as the #306 overall player, #28 safety, and #7 player in Tennessee.
Vaughn visited for March's Junior Day and came back in June with his father for Irish Invasion; rumor had the Irish opening a huge lead after that second visit. In fact, there was really very little doubt about his recruitment from that point on - barring a tremendous change of heart, Donte seemed like a lock to be Irish. And here we are.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 4 star (5.8 rating), NR overall, #18 position, #7 in Tennessee
247 - 3 star (89 rating), #345 overall, #32 position, #11 in Tennessee
ESPN - 4 star (80 rating), #300 overall, #19 position, #5 in Tennessee
Scout - 4 star, #294 overall, #21 position (safety), #6 in Tennessee
247 Composite - 4 star (0.8944 rating), #306 overall, #28 position, #7 in Tennessee
In addition to Notre Dame, Vaughn holds offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, MIssouri, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia, among others. Kid's good.
While his rankings are definitely solid, Vaughn seems to play more to his cohort - there's a lot to like in the highlight reel below, even as short as it is. He looks fluid in coverage, he breaks on the ball well, he brings the lumber. On the first play I thought, OK, nice physical play, fighting the block... OOOHH. Womp. Give me more of that.
I wish there was more on this video so I could be more definitive, but from what I see here I can't really call out any negatives. He looks like a tremendous athlete.
If you're wondering about the speed and agility of a guy who's 6'3", check out this touchdown as a read option quarterback. Whoa. His Hudl profile lists a 4.88 40, which, um, not right. Maybe it was a couple of years ago, or if he was hopping on one foot or something.
Vaughn has a chance to earn some playing time early given the roster numbers in the Irish secondary. He needs to gain a little weight - not much, maybe up to 205 - but otherwise he seems to have all the physical tools necessary to enter the mix early. He doesn't seem likely to push for early starts, especially if Russell and Luke both return (which seems more likely now than it did in August) and Crawford comes back at full strength, but he could definitely see time as a reserve.
Long Term / Career
I like Vaughn's chances at becoming a starter eventually, maybe even as early as 2017. As always, a lot depends on how well he adjusts to the college game, but like seemingly every Irish recruit of the last couple of cycles, he has all the physical tools to be a front-line player at his position.
Welcome to the family, Donte!