It’s been a bit of an unusual year, to say the least, and that remains true when it comes to football. Due to pandemic health concerns, we won’t be seeing Pac-12 football this Fall. Spring Football remains a possibility, but the presence of the NFL Draft may complicate things. Nonetheless, we assume that football will return eventually, so let’s go ahead and finish up our analysis of this year’s UCLA Bruins’ class with Kelly’s final four-star recruit, linebacker Jonathan Vaughns.
Vaughns joins Damien Sellars, Parker McQuarrie, and Logan Loya as the fourth and final four-star recruit of Chip Kelly’s 2020 class. His commitment came in November, shortly after that of Loya. Vaughns had offers from Penn State, LSU, Oregon State, Arizona, and UCLA, but only visited Arizona and UCLA before choosing the Bruins.
He will be a dual athlete at UCLA, using his football scholarship to play both football and baseball. He is the younger brother of USC Trojan’s wideout, Tyler Vaughns, as the two will now get to face off against each other in the crosstown rivalry. Interestingly enough, Jonathan Vaughns did not receive an offer from USC, so I’m sure that will add more fuel to the fire when the next Victory Bell matchup arrives.
Jonathan Vaughns spoke praises of UCLA similar to those of his fellow four stars. He immediately felt welcomed, comfortable, and at home on campus. He connected with the coaches and players, felt that the program was headed in the right direction, and was excited to be a part of the turnaround. Says Vaughns,
“You can tell things are going in the right direction. Everyone is excited to be there. [Safety Stephan] Blaylock was honest with me and said it’s hard work and he had some concerns early on, but he loves it now and he’s doing great. I’m excited to be a part of turning the program around and having a big impact on [the] team.”
Vaughns is not the first of this year’s recruiting cycle to speak of optimism for UCLA moving forward, and that’s a good sign considering what we’ve seen on the field over the last two years. Understandably, Bruins fans will likely have to see such positive signs themselves before buying into the hype. But the sentiment does seem to be there, for what it’s worth.
Like fellow teammate Stephan Blaylock, UCLA plans to play Vaughns both at safety and linebacker. He is a large, physical presence that brings much-needed talent to the linebacker position, as UCLA lost all of their starting linebackers from 2019. According to Greg Biggins of 247 Sports,
“Vaughns has a big frame and is one of the fiercest hitters out West. He can get downhill in a hurry and plays with a physical edge to his game. […] He [also] has really improved over the last year in his ability to play in space and cover. He’s been closer to the line of scrimmage and brings an enforcer mentality to the field you love to have in your secondary.”
Vaughns is now the fourth St. John Bosco player to sign with UCLA this recruiting class. A potential pipeline in the works would be huge for Kelly’s program. The St. John Bosco High Braves are the top-ranked high school team in the country and won the California State Championship last December.
Once the football season finally gets going, whenever that may be, it’s important that these signees make a name for themselves within the program. Doing so will only improve Kelly’s recruiting prospects for the future.