Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman is ready to make a bold statement about Deuce Vaughn.
The sophomore running back has already earned consensus All-America honors as an all-purpose player, and Vaughn now owns the school record for touchdowns in a postseason game after he found the end zone four times during a 42-20 victory over LSU at the Texas Bowl on Tuesday inside NRG Stadium.
Impressive as all that is, none of his accolades and accomplishments properly show how much Vaughn means to his head coach.
“He is the best player in college football in my opinion,” Klieman said.
That will probably sound like hyperbole to some. But Vaughn is gaining more believers with each passing game. There seems to be no slowing him down.
Vaughn put on an offensive clinic against the Tigers on Tuesday. He rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. He also caught a short touchdown pass from quarterback Skylar Thompson and helped the Wildcats add an exclamation mark on to one of the most lopsided bowl victories in school history.
LSU had no answer for him.
“He’s the best offensive player I have ever played with,” K-State linebacker Daniel Green said.
Vaughn didn’t win Texas Bowl MVP honors. Those went to Thompson, who finished out his college career by throwing for 259 yards and three touchdowns. But Vaughn etched his name in the K-State record books.
The Wildcats have been a bowl regular since Bill Snyder took them to the Copper Bowl in 1993. But no one has scored more touchdowns in a bowl game than Vaughn.
He also added some eye-popping numbers to his season statistics. His sophomore campaign came to an end with 1,872 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns.
Vaughn refused to take credit for those numbers, saying they are a product of K-State’s offensive line more than anything he did by himself. But he did take a moment to soak up the victory.
“It’s pretty big, because LSU is a team you watch growing up,” Vaughn said. “They’re a blue-blood school. They won a national championship a few years ago. To get the opportunity to play them in a big-time bowl game back in Texas and to come out on top is big.”
When Vaughn first arrived at K-State, he was an unheralded recruit from Round Rock, Texas.
Few expected much from him at the college level other than the K-State coaches who recruited him. Now, he is one of the most decorated up-and-coming players in the nation.
This may only be the beginning. Klieman still has plenty of time to praise K-State’s star player.
“He’s a consensus first-team All-American for a reason,” Klieman said. “He is the most humble kid I’ve been around. But he’s a workhorse. And our players love him. He loves K-State and he’s big time. I love the kid and I love his heart and his resolve and the fact that he wants the football.”