Kansas State hoping Deuce Vaughn leads the way to top of Big 12

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State coach Chris Klieman likes to tell a story from late April or early May, back when his program was conducting a youth football camp, and he found himself watching running back Deuce Vaughn sign autographs for kids.

“We had a session that ended at 11:30 and the autographs were 11:30 to 12:00, and then there was a break for the players,” Klieman recalled with a smile. “As you can imagine, Deuce’s line was really, really long, and he stayed out there for an extra hour signing for every kid that was there, and taking pictures.”

Klieman paused for a moment, then added: “He knows the gig.”

It comes with stardom.

Vaughn is perhaps the most important player for a Kansas State team many have pegged as a dark-horse contender for the Big 12 championship. He was third in the league in rushing last season behind Baylor’s Abram Smith and Iowa State’s Breece Hall, both of whom are now making their way in the NFL, and is a preseason All-American as an all-purpose player.

“Yeah, the kid is talented,” Klieman said, “but it just doesn’t happen. It’s doing all the little things on the field, off the field, in the classroom, in the community, in the weight room, in the rehab center so that you have your body at the very best, and then doing it with an absolute smile on your face no matter what.”

The path to greatness was never a sure thing for the player associate head coach Van Malone calls “Mr. Electric.”

Coming out of Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, Texas, Vaughn was largely overlooked by most major programs, which tends to happen when you’re a (generously listed) 5-foot-7 prospect. It didn’t matter that Vaughn had piled up yards and touchdowns like cords of firewood.

Missouri offered him a scholarship. So did Arkansas and South Florida. And if he was interested in a military career, he would have been happily accepted at the Air Force Academy and West Point.

Otherwise, his best chance to play Division I football came from Kansas State.

Turns out he had a blueprint to follow.

Back when Vaughn was just a tot, a similarly built dynamo drove south from Iowa and spent the next four years terrorizing the Big 12. Darren Sproles proceeded to rewrite just about every rushing record at Kansas State, finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting as a junior and then parlaying his senior year into a career in the NFL, where he would spend 15 years.

“I will say that ever since I was little,” Vaughn said, “I always looked at the All-American status of players, and you see all these big names and he was an All-American. He was one of the best in the nation, and that was something I always wanted to do whenever I got to this level. So to be able to achieve that is astonishing.”

Quickly earning the starting job, Vaughn ran for 642 yards and seven scores while catching 25 passes for 434 yards and two more, giving Kansas State fans a reason to celebrate amid a 4-6 record during the pandemic.

He gave them reasons on a weekly basis last season. Vaughn ran for 1,404 yards and 18 touchdowns, caught 49 passes for 468 yards and four more touchdowns, and helped the Wildcats go 8-5 with a Texas Bowl win over LSU.

Vaughn ran for 146 yards against the Tigers – his sixth straight 100-yard game – and scored four TDs in all.

He won’t have to wait long to begin making a national impression this season, either.

After the Wildcats open with South Dakota on Sept. 3, they face former Big 12 rival-turned-SEC nemesis Missouri. Then, after a tune-up against Tulane, they visit ninth-ranked Oklahoma for an early conference showdown.

“It’s the work ethic that you see with Deuce,” Klieman said. “I think everybody feeds off of his work ethic, whether it’s on the field, in the classroom, in the film room, in the weight room. The kid works so hard. And then you have your younger players watching arguably your best football player put the work in on a daily basis in all these areas.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff


CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.