Getting to know the 2011 Oregon Duck newcomers: Rahsaan Vaughn, wide receiver

Getting to know the 2011 Oregon Duck newcomers: Rahsaan Vaughn, wide receiver

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Getting to know the 2011 Oregon Duck newcomers: Rahsaan Vaughn, wide receiver


Rahsaan Vaughn
WR – 6-2, 192, 4.37
Fremont, Calif. (Washington HS/College of San Mateo)

2010 stats: 59 catches 1007 yards 17.1 ypc  11 tds

JC All-Americanrated #1 JC receiver by, 4 stars by rivals and scout.  Team record 8-3

Eligibility: junior with 3 years to play two

The San Mateo JC Bulldogs run a smash-mouth offense.  Rahsaan Vaughn was only the fifth receiver in the school’s 75-year history to crack a thousand yards, and he was named the team’s MVP, an amazing honor for a receiver on a team that likes to run first.  They won a state championship in Vaughn’s freshman year.

Rahsaan got more than a good start in football at San Mateo.  Assistant Coach Tim Tulloch gives  a lot of attention to developing his athletes in the classroom with comprehensive tutoring and life skills development. Only 37 percent of student-athletes in the average JC football program perform up to standard in English courses, while 70 percent of CSM players do so.  They’re required to attend seminars that equip them for life outside and after football.  Reporter Jeffrey Gonzalez had the story on one event, a workshop on domestic violence that included 49’er cornerback Darryl Pollard and psychologist Dr. Marla Lowenthal. In her talk she advised the team, “I want you to remember, if you take nothing else away, I want you to remember PIMP,” said Lowenthal. PIMP is an acronym for: Pay attention, Intervene, Move, be Proud; the workshop’s message. “We all have women in our lives and we don’t want to see anything negative happen to them,” said Pollard. “It’s not just the right decisions on the football field, it’s also the right decisions in the classroom-and the right decisions with women.” 

Lowenthal went on: 

“Football is a violent sport,” said Lowenthal. “It’s hard to be violent and then not take it off the field.”
“You want to watch each others’ backs,” she added, saying that alcohol can make people do stupid things and that sometimes people, especially when drunk, might not even realize that what they are doing is assault.
“I’m giving you the strategies, but you have to act,” said Lowenthal. “You’ve already got the courage, if you can face that guy coming at you at full speed-you’ve got the courage,” she added, pointing to six-foot, 275-pound noseguard Langi Haupeakui.
Pollard also cautioned the athletes. “There’s women out there that will target you, not just if you’re an athlete, but if you’re successful,” said Pollard.

After the workshop, Vaughn told Gonzalez,   “I thought it was a good presentation. We got a lot out of it. If we can get this message and get it out, I think we can take it a long way and open people’s eyes.” More schools ought to apply it, a message of leadership and responsibility.

The fast, rangy wide receiver will also open people’s eyes with his football talent.  He’s a big-time athlete with a flair for the big play. In fact his first catch last season was a screen pass for a 42 yard touchdown. And in the second half they ran the same play for a 54 yard score. Vaughn was ridiculously dominant at the junior college level, working defenders short and deep, manhandling them physically, busting through tackles or simply outracing them:


Breaking down the video:

:17 don’t like the looking over the shoulder and high-stepping three yards shy of the end zone.  That’s a minor-league move.  Chip will chew his ass. Good speed.  In JC he had a physical advantage he won’t have in the PAC-12, and he’ll need more precise technique and less showboating. :33 a fade, and they deliberately underthrow making use of his timing and leaping ability.  Goes strong to the ball, overmatches two defenders.  It’s a little embarrassing in how easy for him at this level, or maybe he’s just that good.  We’ll find out in a month.

In those powder blue uniforms with the white helmets and pants, he reminds me of Lance “Bambi” Alworth out there, lean, leaping, graceful, fast, and physically ahead of his competition.  Alworth was two generations ahead of his time as a football player, as was the Charger offense of the mid-60’s.  A little like the Ducks of 2008-11 in its versatility, multiplicity and innovation.

Back to Vaughn. :46 A hitch screen, two good blocks and he zooms 65 yards for a score, quickly shedding one half-hearted tackle.  Sees the lane quickly and commits, and that’s the key. Puts a nice stiffarm on the linebacker.  Good burst.  Looks a little lazy, trotting in from the 10.  Have to ask if JC ball bred some bad habits, but the talent is undeniable. 1:18 Sheds a press coverage at the line and is wide, wide open down the right sideline. Ball thrown a little behind him and makes a nice adjustment.  Defender is flat on the ground from action just before the camera got there–a judicious pushoff.  That’s okay, it’s good for a receiver to be a little physical.  Did an excellent job of getting off the jam at the line, a quick juke and pure speed.

1:33 okay this is nice.  This defender (#4) is 8 yards off him at the snap, and already the cornerback turning his hips to run deeper.  Vaughn’s speed creates an incredible cushion at the start of the play.  He runs a deep curl.  Ball thrown high, he goes up between two defenders and snatches the ball at its highest point.  Good concentration over the middle.  He knows how to protect his body, tucking immediately after the catch.  This catch shows toughness and desire.  He’s not just a pretty boy out there, which you sometimes get with the burners, who often shy away from the bumps and bruises of big-boy football.  That catch shows me something, some Maehl-like toughness. Wants the ball when it’s in the air, and that’s something that comes from the gut. Can’t be taught. 2:05 tunnel screen, accelerates upfield, a couple of nice moves, and charges hard for the end zone in traffic.  No Cadillacking, which is what he’ll need in the PAC-12 against defenders with closing speed.

2:16 a simple post pattern and Vaughn has single coverage.  He’s open by 5 yards, and the quarterback slings it as far as he can for a 53-yard touchdown.  Vaughn gathers it in in stride, with soft hands.  His eyes follow the ball into his hands.  Sounds odd, but some receivers lose concentration or get stiff when they are wide, wide open for a big play.  He doesn’t fight the ball, which is good to see.  Jaison Willis and Jordan Kent sometimes had trouble with this type of play. 2:25 Go route down the right sideline, and the defender has pretty good position, until he stumbles just before the ball gets there. Vaughn shows good body control and again, good instincts in the hand-fighting, the subtle little push at just the right time.  There’s a little contact between db and wr on a lot of plays, and Rahsaan has the coordination and competitiveness to engage in those battles and win them.  Hate receivers who play like a priss.  There’s no priss in this guy. 2:38 With his speed, timing, leaping ability and lean, athletic body, he’s a natural for fade-type routes, with the ball thrown over the defender’s head.  Very difficult for dbs to contest this if the quarterback and receiver have developed a good rhythm together.  The corner has to turn his hips to run with Vaughn and it’s hard for many to get turned around in time to find the ball.  Vaughn does a good job of not tipping the arrival of the ball, just running calmly and springing up when it arrives. His opponent is pretty helpless and miserable.

2:55 another tunnel screen, and on this one he follows his blocks really well and lets the play develop.  Looked like a touchdown Maehl scored against Washington State, from about the same distance.  Runs smart with a good innate sense of the pursuit.  3:01 beats press coverage with ridiculous ease. 3:14 a stop-and-go route, and the defender bites. Gathers in a ball thrown over his outside shoulder, another advanced receiver technique not everybody executes properly. 3:20 The defender plays 10 yards off him, which gives Vaughn unlimited options.  It’s another stop and go route.  The ball is high and behind him and he makes a nice adjustment, ranging to full extension to make the catch.  Quarterbacks love a receiver like this, who makes them look good on a ball not thrown correctly. 3:35 close contact, left sideline this time, nudges the defender and makes a full pivot for a ball completely behind him. Physical and focused, understands what he can and can’t do with the ball in the air.  Drew Pearson made a living with these judicious little nudges. 3:44 a deep slant/skinny post, tackled immediately, clutch catch. 3:51 hook route with Yac. 4:17 quarterback runs left, a designed keep, and Rahsaan shields his man capably on the perimeter, looking like a young Drew Davis, a skill he must have to crack the lineup at Oregon. 4:27 another fade for a touchdown, with a lot of handfighting. 4:39 hook, sells the deep route really well, and turns up and fights tackles for extra yards.  A tough, strong player for a fleet receiver. 4:50 At this level they can’t cover him and he dominates every one-on-one matchup.

Settles well in soft spots, and turns upfield, with no cross-field wandering or wasted motion. Drives off the line and creates a cushion for possession catches. Keeps his legs driving and runs like a tailback. Really uses the stiff arm well. 6:20 puts a shoulder into a defender on an out route. With his speed and explosiveness, you could throw him 5-7 yard hitches all day, and then he becomes an athlete one-on-one in the open field. 6:59 two defenders arrive with the ball but he hangs on. He’s a playmaker, physical and assertive, a little Michael Irvin/Juron Criner in this sequence. 7:38, 7:48 no fear of going over the middle. A high-volume receiver, a workhorse who could achieve Maehl-like productivity once he acclimates and if he conforms.  He’s almost identical in size to Jeff, but with more natural ability and a notch faster.

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