USC WR Tyler Vaughns deserves to be on Biletnikoff Award Watch List

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC football’s Tyler Vaughns was not named on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for 2019. Does the Trojan receiver deserve a mention?

On Thursday, the 2019 Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award was announced and no USC football players were included.

That means redshirt sophomore receiver Tyler Vaughns was hard done.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out each year to the nation’s top receiver and its watch list includes 50 players identified during the preseason with the chance to be recognized. Vaughns should be among them.

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A five-star talent coming out of high school, he boasts size at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with precise route running, exceptional body control and capable hands.

His potential as USC’s primary wide receiver target in 2018 is undeniable. But the Biletnikoff Award outright stats that “actual, not potential, performance is the basis for inclusion on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.”

By that measure, Vaughns still deserves recognition, at least as much as several others who made the cut.

Peruse the NCAA receiving yards chart from 2017 and you’ll find Vaughns equivalent with Auburn’s Ryan Davis, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Ball State’s Justin Hall and SMU’s James Proche, all of whom made the watch list.

Look through USC’s own schedule and you’ll find Biletnikoff watch listers like Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Cal’s Kanawai Noa and Texas’ Collin Johnson. Vaughns out-produced that trio with 809 yards and five touchdowns on 57 catches in 2017 and he did so by displaying all the exciting ability of an up-and-coming pass catcher.

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The Biletnikoff adds players to their watch list as they see fit, so it’s more than likely Vaughns will end up there sooner or later. Still, just as it was the case with JuJu Smith-Schuster being left out ahead of the 2015 season, missing Vaughns on the first go around feels like an oversight. Smith-Schuster went on to become a semifinalist for the award that year.

It’s now on USC’s No. 21 to prove that the voters have underestimated him.

The Trojans have produced just one Biletnikoff Award winner. Marqisee Lee took home the award in 2012 whole Robert Woods, Dwayne Jarrett, Mike Williams and Keyshawn Johnson just missed out as finalists.