And so begins another round of “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football” here on OFD. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.
#8 Donte Vaughn, CB
Donte Vaughn came to Notre Dame in the fall of 2016 as a 4-star corner from Memphis with the size and coverage ability that seemed to make him a budding star. He flashed some skills during that horrid 2016 season, even, as he managed to snag an interception against the Duke Blue Devils and played a decent amount of time, seemingly being given the experience he would need to be a major contributor on better teams later in his career. He finished that season with 22 tackles and 6 passes defended.
However, over the next couple seasons, it became clear that Vaughn had been surpassed on the depth chart by a couple classmates, former 3-star Julian Love and 4-star Troy Pride Jr. Those two, along with Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman in the class ahead of Vaughn’s, all saw action before Vaughn in every situation, and he languished on the bench to the tune of 6 tackles in 2017 and 13 as a junior last season.
Vaughn’s biggest moments, unfortunately, came against the Clemson Tigers in December’s Cotton Bowl, when he had to replace an ailing Julian Love and despite some decent positioning/coverage at times, got absolutely shown up by Clemson wide receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, including Higgins’ ridiculous tip-grab just before halftime on what was honestly near-perfect coverage by Vaughn in the end zone:
Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, or Chicago
“This Ain’t a Love Song” - Bon Jovi
That wonderful reign of Julian Love as ND’s All-American corner is over. Now, guys like Donte Vaughn are going to have to pitch in as a committee to help fill the gap. This song title hits the nail on the head.
Hey Dog HEY!
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As far as corners go, Vaughn is definitely more of a physical, strong guy as opposed to having a lot of speed. So, I went with a similarly muscular, tall dog who has a high tolerance for pain, which aligns with Vaughn being able to bounce back from having to get beaten up by Clemson’s receivers like he did.
It sounds like rising sophomore Houston Griffith has emerged as a favorite to step in as a starting corner opposite Troy Pride, what with Julian Love off to the New York Giants.
With that said, Vaughn is an experienced senior who certainly has the physicality and general coverage ability to contribute, and he will likely have to as one of the first corners in along with sophomore-to-be TaRiq Bracy.
I don’t think Vaughn will suddenly flip the switch and light the world on fire in 2019, but I do think he will have a swan song similar to Nick Coleman, who managed to have a solid season in 2019 as a nickelback/reserve safety. I think Vaughn will play a decent amount and not be a massive liability in coverage — just about anyone trying to cover Clemson’s Higgins and Ross are going to get beat, so that doesn’t concern me too much.
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Here’s just a little reminder of why everyone was high on Donte Vaughn coming in, and why he still might be able to make some significant contributions as a senior corner on a defense that will be replacing a number of key pieces: