We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the likes of Stepfan Taylor and Chase Thomas this season, but replacing Andrew Luck and the other members of last year's 11-win squad will require a team effort. Over the next 12 days we'll profile 12 less heralded Cardinal players whose ability to adjust to larger roles could determine whether Stanford is competing for a third straight BCS invite or settling for a spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Previously Featured: Drew Terrell | Anthony Wilkerson | Henry Anderson | Ed Reynolds | Kevin Danser | Brendon Austin
Name: James Vaughters
Career Stats: 13 games played, 11 total tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack
Shoes to Fill: Shayne Skov
Where He Came From: Vaughters came to the Farm from Tucker High School in Tucker, Georgia, where he was a four-star recruit. Rivals deemed him the 4th-best linebacker in the country and the 54th-best player in America. Vaughters turned down offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Ohio State, USC and others to attend Stanford, and while many thought he might retract his commitment when Vic Fangio left for the 49ers with Jim Harbaugh, Vaughters never wavered and arrived on the Farm in 2011 to major fanfare.
What He’s Done: Vaughters came onto the scene last year with a lot of hype, but didn’t really get the chance to contribute to the Cardinal’s base defense in his freshman year because AJ Tarpley and Jarek Lancaster played admirably as fill-ins for the injured Shayne Skov. Vaughters did play and play pretty well on special teams, but sometimes looked a little lost and overly technical when he had his chances to play middle linebacker. He registered a season-high four tackles against Duke, and picked up his only sack of the season against Arizona.
Training Camp Outlook: The reason Vaughters is listed as having to fill Shayne Skov’s shoes is that he was already pictured as Skov 2.0 coming out of high school. When you have really small numbers next to your name on Rivals, ESPN and Scout, the expectations go through the roof. This year, he looks ready to fulfill all that preordained praise, as his impressive spring and fall have led observers to label him as ferocious, unblockable, and a candidate to be the Pac-12’s breakout player of the year. Based on those observations, it’s not too far-fetched to say that if Vaughters plays and plays well in 2012, he and Skov could pair together to become one of the most fearsome inside linebacker duos in the conference. Additionally, Vaughters would show fans and the Cardinal coaching staff that there is already successor to Skov waiting in the wings – especially when Skov heads to the NFL this spring.
Vaughters on Twitter: @JVtheNotorious9
James Vaughters is truly a man after my own heart. Not only does he like to write, but he also references one of my favorite "Chappelle’s Show" skits.
That moment when you're just writing and finally realize the purpose of your paper >>> about to start spittin hot fire— James Vaughters (@JVtheNotorious9) July 15, 2012
Alphabetically Speaking: Vaughters sits between two mid-nineties Cardinal - Matt Vaughn, who lettered in 1993, and Tony Vella, who earned a letter in 1996.
Numerically Speaking: Richard Sherman wore No. 9 before Vaughters arrived on the Farm. Other Stanford Nines (non-Mark Marquess division) include QB Steve Smith and DB Craig Landis, the son of former White Sox outfielder Jim Landis.
Related Video: Vaughters might have a second career in music if football doesn’t wok out for him. Check out his stage presence in the Stanford football team’s rendition of Montell Jordan’s "This Is How We Do It":
Fun Fact: Vaughters’ hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, hosted the tennis, archery and track cycling events in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Additionally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. references Stone Mountain in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington. Watch the whole thing and listen for Vaughters’ hometown in the last minute of the speech.