Tyler Vaughns elects to return to USC as a fifth-year senior

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

USC wide receiver Tyler Vaughns announced his decision to return for the 2020 season as a redshirt senior opening the door for a record-breaking campaign.

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On Thursday evening offensive coordinator Graham Harrell received welcome news as Tyler Vaughns confirmed he will be back for his fifth year as a Trojan.

On Twitter he wrote, “After much consideration and reviewing my options with my family, I have decided to trust my heart and return to the University of Southern California for the 2020 season! I am excited for the opportunity to obtain my goals of earning my degree from USC and competing for a national title as a Trojan. Thanks to all my coaches, family, and friends for supporting me. Fight On!”

Vaughns’ decision to return to campus makes him the initial choice to replace Michael Pittman Jr. as USC’s top outside receiver and the elder statesman in the receiver room. He has made 33 career starts in 39 games after redshirting in 2016.

The Bishop Amat product has reeled in 189 passes for 2395 yards and 17 touchdowns over three seasons and saw his productivity increase substantially in 2019 despite being USC’s third-leading receiver. His six touchdowns in 2019 came on a career-high 74 receptions and 912 yards.

While it was rumored that Vaughns could be an impact player for USC, Trojan fans had to wait until midway through his second season on campus to see his coming out party. The then redshirt freshman caught six passes from Sam Darnold for 126 yards and two scores in USC’s dominant win over ASU.

Fast forward to 2019  and Vaughns was a key target no matter which quarterback was behind center for the Trojans. He caught 11 balls for 150 yards in the team’s opener against Fresno State and had numerous key catches against one of the nation’s top corners in Paulson Adebo of Stanford en route to another 100-yard receiving day.

He went over 100-yards two more times in 2019 in Trojan wins over Colorado and UCLA.

Vaughns return bodes well for an offense in need of receiver depth. When Velus Jones Jr. departed for Tennessee, the Trojans had just six scholarship receivers remaining on the roster without Vaughns. Even with the addition of Gary Bryant Jr. on signing day, seven wideouts is hardly a comfortable number in an Air Raid offense.

Of course, the decision to stay for a fifth season could be mutually beneficial for both parties. The Trojan receiver room can use the senior’s experience and guidance to help mold the tantalizing abilities of Kyle Ford and Bru McCoy as they transition into the next great Trojan flankers.

Meanwhile, Vaughns has an opportunity to become the top receiver in a dynamic passing offense and set multiple USC receiving records, which could help solidify his Trojan legacy and boost his draft position come April 2021. He is well within reach of breaking Robert Woods career receptions mark at USC.

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