FRISCO, Texas – Within minutes, Deuce Vaughn saw the heartwarming video of his dad sharing hugs in the Dallas draft room after the Kansas State running back was taken in the sixth round by the Cowboys on Saturday.
Chris Vaughn is the assistant director of college scouting for Dallas, and he and his son had for months avoided conversations about how the Cowboys viewed the younger Vaughn going into the NFL draft.
Father and son can talk about whatever they want now.
“To see him react the way that he did,” Deuce Vaughn said of his father hugging Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and Jones' son Stephen, the executive vice president of personnel. “I’m not going to lie, it was a tear-jerker.”
Chris Vaughn has been with the Cowboys since 2017 after an 18-year career in college coaching, including with the Texas Longhorns. Deuce Vaughn went to high school in the Austin area.
“I've never had an experience like that in the draft room,” said Jerry Jones, who bought the Cowboys in 1989.
Forget the family ties for a moment. Vaughn is the first running back drafted by Dallas since releasing two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott in March.
While Tony Pollard is set to be the lead back playing on the $10.1 million franchise tag, Vaughn will always be the first draft pick of a new era in the Dallas backfield.
“Zeke for the past seven years I believe was the cornerstone of this franchise,” said Vaughn, showing he was up on his history. “Not only the way he runs the football, but protects the quarterback, does everything. I have some big shoes to fill as the next running back to be taken by the Cowboys.”
Playmaking was never the issue for Vaughn, who was a two-time Associated Press All-American as an all-purpose player with 2,962 yards rushing and 34 total touchdowns over the past two seasons for the Wildcats.
Size was an issue. Listed at 5-foot-6 in his Kansas State bio, the official number with the NFL is 5-5. He brings quick comparisons to another Kansas State star in Darren Sproles, who had a long NFL career as an elite kick returner.
Sproles, listed at 5-6 in his playing days, had already texted Vaughn before Vaughn's telephone conversation with the team's beat reporters.
“He said keep the short backs alive,” Vaughn said. “He said to go out there and make him proud.”
Vaughn was lightly recruited out of high school in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, and he was in Austin when he got the call from the Cowboys.
He said his mom was the first to see it was the Cowboys, and she started crying. Then word quickly spread to everybody else in the room.
“It got pretty loud, I'm not going to lie to you,” Vaughn said. “Just a great scene. Family, friends, everybody that kind of had a helping hand in getting me here was in that room.”
When the Cowboys were deciding, Stephen Jones said meetings had to be held away from Chris Vaughn because they knew the conversation would be awkward for him.
They tried to have a little fun with Chris Vaughn before realizing the moment was genuine enough to carry itself.
“It was a surprise to him as well when we made the decision,” Stephen Jones said. “It was really neat to see the look on his face.”
The drafting of Vaughn was the most exciting moment of a less-than-flashy draft for the Cowboys.
San Jose State defensive end Viliami Fehoko was the first pick of the final day for Dallas in the fourth round, followed by tackle Asim Richards of North Carolina in the fifth.
Before taking Vaughn 212th overall, the Cowboys traded up for the first pick of the sixth round and got Southern Miss cornerback Eric Scott Jr. Kansas City received a fifth-round pick in next year's draft.
Dallas’ final pick was South Carolina receiver Jalen Brooks in the seventh round.
The Cowboys took Michigan players with their first two picks, getting defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round and tight end Luke Schoonmaker in the second. Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown was the third-round choice.
“We're very satisfied and fired up about our draft class,” Stephen Jones. “We accomplished about everything we wanted to get done. There's no question we made our football team better.”