USC football could see a new face atop the record books if Tyler Vaughns continues as planned.
Tyler Vaughns decided to return for his redshirt season in 2020, giving himself the chance to break records and USC football a critical target in the passing game.
Given his importance to the Trojans as a veteran, Vaughns seemed like the ideal player to kick off Reign of Troy’s player progress reports.
This summer, we’re exploring USC’s roster, taking stock of where players have been, where they are now, and where they’re going…
What USC got as a recruit:
Vaughns was an elite prospect coming out of Bishop Amat in 2016. He ranked 30th in the 247Sports composite, higher than teammate Michael Pittman and future NFL draft picks N’Keal Harry and D.K. Metcalf.
He was expected to be a mainstay at the receiver position for the Trojans for years to come.
What he’s accomplished:
Vaughns has done just that.
He took a redshirt season in 2016, then came into the 2017 with plenty of offseason hype surrounding his Spring and Fall Camp performances. True to the talk, Vaughns took over a starting job in the fifth game of the season and finished with 57 catches for 809 yards and five touchdowns.
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As USC’s offense took a major dip in 2018, so did Vaughns’ production. He still managed to impress with big moments, even if he had only 58 catches for 674 yards. Most memorably, he put in a complete performance against Arizona State, grabbing four passes for 72 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown, while also returning a punt 82 yards for a score and throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass.
A sprained ankle may have slowed him some in 2019, but it didn’t stop him from putting in another stellar campaign. Vaughns delivered 74 receptions for 912 yards and six touchdowns.
What to expect in 2020:
Vaughns finished the 2019 season with 2,395 yards on 189 career receptions. Both marks put him well within range of all-time USC records as he enters his senior season. That’s without ever crossing the 1,000-yard mark.
Expect that to change in 2020 as Vaughns continues to command a key role in the Trojan offense. Others may rise, like Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford, but Vaughns will still be a primary target for Kedon Slovis. The quarterback will have to distribute Michael Pittman’s touches somewhere else this year and Vaughns is likely to benefit from that.
Where he goes from here:
If Vaughns manages 1,000 yards in 2020, he will finish at least second among Trojans all-time in receiving yards. A receiving total of 1,261 (which is 14 less than Pittman managed in 2019) would give him the record over Marqise Lee.
He needs just 63 catches to match Robert Woods for the most career catches in USC history as well.
If Vaughns performs as Trojan fans know he can, he will etch his name in the record books.
As for the NFL, the receiver’s future is murky. His production is likely to get him a look as a draft pick. However, his measurables will be a limiting factor to his draft ceiling. Neither blazing speed nor massive size will be on Vaughns’ side in that regard.