Orlando, Fla.--Auburn senior John Vaughn got the news on Wednesday that he was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year after arriving at Disney World where he will participate in ESPN’s college football award’s show on Thursday night.
Vaughn became the all-time leader in field goals made for the Tigers this season. He has 49 for his career, including 19 this season. He also set a school record for most kicking points in a season with 89 and became the first field goal kicker in Auburn history to kick 50-yard field goals in back-to-back games with a 52-yarder vs. Washington State and a 55-yarder vs. Mississippi State this year.
“It is a tremendous honor because there are some great players in the SEC and it is a tremendous honor to represent Auburn as well,” Vaughn tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.
On Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, Fla., Vaughn was honored as one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the top kicker in the nation. On Thursday night the winner will be announced on ESPN. The other finalists are Art Carmody of Louisville and Garrett Hartley of Oklahoma.
Vaughn is flanked by Okalahoma's Garrett Hartley (left) and Louisville's Art Carmody (right) as they visit 12-year-old Cassandra McClanahan at St. Mary's Children's
Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Vaughn says he has enjoyed his time in Florida this week. “It has been awesome,” he says. “They have really, really put on a good show down here. The Lou Groza people have been extremely hospitable. I have had a great time getting to know Garrett and Art.”
Commenting on the Groza Award, he says, “Whatever happens, I am just happy to be a finalist.”
Before taking off for Florida, Vaughn worked out with his teammates. “All of the kickers kicked together a couple of days ago,” he says. “It was great having some time off. My legs feel a lot better. The 12 games in a row kind of wore me out.
“I have been doing some stretching and getting my flexibility back,” Vaughn adds. “I got kind of wound up toward the end of the year there. It is definitely for the best.”
Vaughn and his teammates won’t return to the practice field until Dec. 14th when they begin workouts in preparation for a New Year’s Day Bowl game vs. 9-4 Nebraska in Dallas.
“It’s been a great senior year,” says Vaughn, whose team is 10-2. “I have a great group of seniors to be with. A lot of us have been together for four years. I think the senior leadership has been great. This year is something I am always going to remember. It has been a great blessing. I have had a great time.”
Vaughn says he is excited about playing in the Cotton Bowl. “Nebraska has a great team and a lot of tradition there as well so it will be a great team to go out against as a senior,” he says. “I actually have a teammate from high school (Brentwood, Tenn., Academy, Barry Turner, who plays defensive end for them. It will be fun to play against an old high school teammate.”
The SEC also honored Ole Miss senior Patrick Willis as the league’s top defensive player. Sophomore tailback Darren McFadden of Arkansas was named offensive player of the year and Houston Nutt of Arkansas is the league’s coach of the year.
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