By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Monday that he knew about running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn when he ran for 2,646 yards and 45 touchdowns as a senior Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville and was named 2014 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year.
Stoops will likely get to see plenty of Vaughn Saturday night when the No. 14 Cats host Vanderbilt. He had a 43-yard run and a 75-yard touchdown catch last week against Florida before an injury forced him out of the game after Vandy built a 21-3 lead before losing 37-27.
Vaughn originally signed with Illinois and had eight starts. He ran for 1,024 yards and nine scores on 2017 carries in two years but 723 of those yards and six scores came his first season. He transferred to Vanderbilt and this year has a team-high 495 rushing yards (6.9 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He’s also caught seven passes for 131 yards, an average of 16 yards per catch.
“He’s explosive. He is extremely fast,” Stoops said Monday. “He’s just a good player. He really is. He’s really fast and explosive. I talked to a few people that played him and they said as fast as he looks on film, he’s faster in person. So that means, that you definitely could feel him on the field.”
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason confirmed to The Tennesseean Monday that Vaughn should be “good” for Saturday night’s game.
The Commodores need him because they already rank last in the SEC and 89th nationally in rushing offer at 151.6 yards per game and will be going against a Kentucky defense that is third in the SEC and 23rd nationally in rushing defense at 119.3 yards per game.
Stoops watched a “good piece” of the Vande-Florida game last week during UK’s bye week even though he was with his son and friends at a birthday party.
“Vandy is a team that’s really well coached. I have a lot of respect for Derek and what he does and how he coaches,” Stoops said. “You see a team that’s very hungry, that plays very hard. They’re just looking for that breakthrough.
“They had a great opportunity to beat Notre Dame and then had a great opportunity against Florida. Two very, very good football teams. You see what they’re capable of. We’re going to have to play very good football.
“That’s my message every week. It’s about us and what we do and how we prepare and how we expect the game in our preparation, no matter who we’re playing. It starts today with having a very good Monday.”