July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

College signing: Wins lure Andrew Vaughn to Ashland

SULLIVAN TWP. — One of the most prolific running backs in Ohio history has a new home in the same county.

Black River senior Andrew Vaughn wanted a challenge. He got it when he accepted a half-scholarship from Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contender Ashland that could become something more down the road.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder passed up more lucrative packages from Malone and Notre Dame (Ohio) for one reason only.

“It’s the winning they carry,” said Vaughn, who will major in exercise science. “They play in the best conference in the nation. They’re really competitive, and I want to compete with the best players.

“It’s really humbling. I thought they would ask me to walk on. I’ve always wanted to play at Ashland, but I didn’t see myself as a Division II player. It’s definitely amazing to know I’ve earned a scholarship.”

Vaughn won two Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championships and made as many playoff appearances at Black River. The Jackson Township resident will join a similar tradition at Ashland, which has gone 71-39 in 10 seasons under former Akron coach Lee Owens.

The Eagles went just 5-5 last fall, but averaged nearly 30 points per game with redshirt freshman Tra’Von Chapman, a Pittsburgh transfer and Kent native, at quarterback. They run a spread offense and want Vaughn to remain at running back, but he said he’s willing to play defense if needed.

“I’m used to the wing-T — run left, run right,” Vaughn joked. “It’s going to be a different offense, but they’ve got similar plays and terminology that we run.”

A four-year starter, Vaughn set Medina County records for career points (530), total touchdowns (82), rushing touchdowns (72) and rushing yards (6,097). He compiled 2,342 rushing yards and a county-standard 218 points while leading Black River to the D-V playoffs this season.

There, he outdueled Fairless quarterback and Youngstown State recruit Hunter Wells, Stark County’s all-time leading passer, with 240 yards from scrimmage and 30 points.

Vaughn wasn’t highly recruited despite running a 4.5-second 40-yard-dash and posting numbers comparable to the state’s all-time best — his career rushing yardage and points rank in the top 30 — though the historically below-average Patriot Athletic Conference had something to do with that.

Then again, that didn’t stop him from being the only county player named to the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association North-South Classic this spring.

“I had a great time,” Vaughn said. “I wouldn’t wish for anything different. Coming from a small school, I like facing adversity. … There’s a lot of tremendous players at small schools.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.