LARAMIE -- Harvard wanted him.

So did Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia and Penn.

Those, of course, are all Ivy League institutions, reserved for only the highest academic achievers. Air Force and Army offered him, too. Not just anyone can get into a military academy.

Jordon Vaughn, who eventually fielded 19 offers in total, chose Wyoming, though, and the reasoning behind it isn't all that intricate. The Cowboys' coaching staff, he said, was on him from day one. Secondly, he was interested in UW's world-class engineering programs.

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Football wise, it's a perfect fit, too.

Vaughn is a bruising 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back. Craig Bohl wants to pound the rock.

"I really just came to play ball and just expand my horizons," the redshirt freshman from the Greater Houston Area said. "Simple as that."

Though Vaughn didn't get on the field last season, his reputation precedes him. With his size, it's no surprise that some of his teammates compare his running style to that of Tennessee Titans back, Derrick Henry.

"I actually get that a lot," Vaughn said, a smile creasing his face. "I'm on the tall side of running backs but I'm also agile and can do everything a back should do. Those bigger running back comparisons, I do get that a lot."

A three-star recruit out of Manvel High School, also has some pure speed. He showed that off in a 62-34 victory over Lamar Consolidated during the area round of the 5A Division II playoffs in 2019. That night inside Traylor Stadium, Vaughn pounded his first score in from four yards out. The other two touchdowns -- on back-to-back carries -- came courtesy of 54-and 64-yard dashes.

His nickname isn't "Rocket" by accident.

"Once I get downhill, once the train is going, it's hard to stop," he added.

 

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Vaughn's overall numbers in high school aren't eye-popping. He didn't even rush for 1,000 yards, platooning with a number of backs and playing linebacker. But after a rolling up 556 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on just 96 carries as a junior, he went from an afterthought to fielding 15 official offers.

Garrett Crall used one descriptor when referring to Vaughn -- "punishing."

He would know, too. It was Crall's job to bring him down in practice last fall.

"He's a big dude," he said. "He's been working really hard in the winter. He's one of those guys that's going to run between the tackles. He's a smart guy, so it's going to be interesting to see how well he can kind of put his physicality and also his capability together to be able to read blocks, learn and just be able to go straight forward and punish."

Does Crall buy into the Henry comparison?

"Is it fair to say he's going to be like that this year? Who knows," he said. "But I think he's going to be really good."

Bohl doesn't think it's out of the realm of possibility.

"Jordan is a big thumper," Wyoming's ninth-year head coach said. "He's a great straight-line guy, not great maybe with his lateral movement, but he's a big, big strong guy."

Turns out, Vaughn is also the gentle type.

His best friend and biggest fan -- without question, he adds -- is his 12-year-old brother Kelly, who has autism.

"He's so sweet and patient with him," said Vaughn's father, who is also named Kelly. "They are inseparable."

Though Vaughn said he is a role model to his little brother, it's really him that provides the inspiration.

"He's like my little shadow when I'm at home," said Vaughn, once again flashing that bright grin. "He gives me a lot of motivation. It's very hard to be away from him. I try to call him every week and we play Fortnite together when I'm back at the room.

"That's my little man."

What will it mean to see Vaughn get his first carry in a Cowboys' uniform?

"He will be ecstatic," he said. "He'll be cheering for days."

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 7220Sports.com counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players