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March 12, 2019 Happy Birthday Jon Vaughn

Posted on March 11, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

The purpose of today’s blog is to wish a very Happy Birthday to a Michigan Wolverine named Jon Vaughn. Jonathan Stewart “Jon” Vaughn was born on this day in Florissant, Missouri. He grew up to become an outstanding athlete (football and track and field) at McCluer North High School. Bo Schembechler, and his staff, took great interest in his talents and got him to commit to Michigan in 1988.

(Note-Jon Vaughn (#25) is pictured here with the 1990 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines. He is in the third row andis the sixth man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Jon Vaughn

A Lightweight Gets Off to a Slow Start in Ann Arbor

Jon Vaughn came to Michigan in the Fall of 1988. The football roster listed him as a Freshman Defensive Back. He came in at 5’ 11” inches tall and weighed 183 pounds soaking wet. He was pretty light by Big Ten standards. Bo had plans for Vaughn, just not in 1988, so he red-shirted the talented freshman. I am sure that Bo introduced Jon to Mike Gittleson, the strength coach, and said, “Get some muscle on this guy!” Michigan did fine without Jon Vaughn in 1988. The Wolverines finished the season with a record of 9-2-1 and won the Big Ten Championship.

Michgian Football Helmet | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Interestingly, I could not find any pictures of Jon Vaughn in the Bentley archives. He wore the famed Michigan helmet for sixteen games. I guess he was too fast for the photographers to get any action shots! Picture courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Michigan still had plenty of talented running backs in 1989. Guys like Jarrod Bunch, Leroy Hoard, Tony Boles and Ricky Powers were all ready to carry the ball for Bo. Jon Vaughn was still playing as a lightweight since he is listed at only 174 pounds on the 1989 Michigan Football Roster. Obviously, there was more work to do with Mr. Gittleson. Jon Vaughn played in at least four games in 1989. He totaled 10 carries and gained 57 yards. He earned his first letter on Bo’s last team that finished with a record of 10 wins, 2 losses and another Big Ten title. It looked like the tailback position would be a two-man competition between Vaughn and Ricky Powers in 1990. If Jon could put on some weight, he could be the starter in 1990.

A Bigger, Stronger, Faster Jon Vaughn Starts in 1990

Jon Vaughn worked hard in the off-season and came back in 1990 at a Big Ten-ready 200 pounds. Gary Moeller, Michigan’s new head coach, must have liked what he saw since he named Jon Vaughn as the starting tailback. Vaughn did not disappoint.

Vaughn started the season with a spectacular game against Notre Dame. He rushed for 201 yards on 22 carries and averaged 9.1 yards per carry.  He also caught 6 passes for 41 yards which gave him 242- yards for the game. Unfortunately, it was not enough and the Wolverines lost to the Irish by a score of 24-28. The next week went even better because Michigan beat UCLA by a score of 38-15. Jon Vaughn was “the man” in this game as he rushed for 288 yards on 32 carries. He averaged 9.0 yards per carry and scored 3 touchdowns. So, Vaughn gained almost five hundred yards (489) in his first two games as a starter and was averaging almost 245 yards per game. Obviously, he was off to a fast start in 1990.

Jon Vaughn did not average 250 yards per game for the rest of the 1990 season, but he did have a great campaign. He finished with three more 100-yard rushing games. Vaughn ended his first season as a starter with 216 carries and totaled 1,364 net yards. He also caught 20 passes for another 123 yards. Jon Vaughn had a very productive season in 1990 – and then he was gone!

Vaughn Decides to Leave Early in 1991

Despite his great success in 1990, Jon Vaughn decided to leave Ann Arbor with two years of eligibility on the table. It was a shocker to many Wolverine fans, but he felt that professional football was where he wanted to showcase his talents. Jon’s statistics for his two-short years at Michigan are still impressive. He rushed the ball 226 times for 1,421 yards. He scored 9 rushing touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 123 yards. It is scary to think what he could have done in 1991, but we will never know about that, will we?

Jon Vaughn’s Michigan Football Firsts

Vaughn is connected to some important Michigan Football “firsts.” Check these out:

·         Jon Vaughn played on the first team to be coached by Gary Moeller in 1990.

·         Vaughn was the first man to record back-to-back games with at least 200 rushing yards in 1990.

·         Jon Vaughn was on the first, and only, Big Ten Football team (1990) to win a conference championship in every decade since the 1890s.

·         Vaughn is the first, and only, man to average over 6.0 yards per carry for a career. His 6.29 average is still the best in Michigan football history.

·         Jon Vaughn is the first, and only, Michigan running back to leave the program for the NFL with two years of eligibility remaining.

Yes, Jon Vaughn’s career was basically  “two and out.” His Michigan career started slow, but it finished fast – really fast! Interestingly, he was a part of three Big Ten Championship teams and earned All-Conference honors in 1990. He was also named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the year in 1990.

I hope that Jon Vaughn is having a great time celebrating his birthday with family and friends today! Please take a moment to appreciate the contributions that Jon Vaughn made to the history of Michigan Football. Happy Birthday and thanks for the memories Jon. Go Blue!



Check out the Wolverine Historian’s video highlights of Jon Vaughn’s first start at Michigan – wow!


Part II. March 12, 2019 National Day Calendar Update



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