With a look to the offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the process of shaping their summer roster. They re-signed nearly everyone on their practice squad, sans Tyler Murphy, to future deals that can keep this players through camp. They also added several players from outside the organization, as is the norm, to futures deal. We’ll take you through each one and give you the skinny on each player. Nothing incredibly in-depth but enough background on each to get your familiar with who these people are.
Dustin Vaughan/QB 6’4/7 235 – West Texas A&M
Despite coming from a school that might sound like something out of a Key and Peele sketch, Vaughan and his teammates dominated. In his three years as a starter with the Buffs, his team never lost more than three games in a season and made deep runs in the playoffs over the last two. His offense was potent. The numbers gaudy. Wins by scores of 57-20, 69-7, 72-0, even a 90-57 bonkers shootout litter Vaughan’s gamelog.
And because you’re probably wondering how he did, Vaughan went 27/40 for 452 yards, 6 touchdowns and one interception in that 90 point game. His team scored 31 points in the third quarter. He even spread the ball around so much that not a single receiver had 100 yards.
His statistics were video game like. In 2013, his final year, he tossed 53 touchdowns, completed nearly two-thirds of his passes, and was intercepted just 10 times over 14 games. All while throwing for – and I hope you’re sitting down – 5401 yards, an average of 385.8 per game, barely 100 yards shy of the D2 record. He finished as the Harlon Hill’s – their version of the Heisman – runner up.
It wasn’t just impressive numbers. Vaughan stacked wins. He went 31-8 as a starter. In 2012, he handily knocked off #1 Colorado State-Pueblo in the playoffs, 34-13, after his team fell to them in the season opener. He threw three touchdowns in the upset victory. The following season, as the 6th seed underdogs, he defeated the number 2 and 3 seeded teams before falling to Grand Valley State. Combine bowl and playoff games and Vaughan finished an impressive 6-2.
He holds virtually every passing record in school history: completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, and yards per game. Despite the production, wins, and excellent size, he went undrafted in 2013t, signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a UDFA, staying right at home. Born in Texas, played high school and college there, and the chance to live your dream in your own backyard. Not a bad life. He hung around and even made the 53 man roster in 2014 before getting canned at final cutdowns this year.
The Buffalo Bills scooped him up two weeks later but didn’t even last a month before sitting at home the rest of the regular season.
While the presumed #4 QB spot is not a fun place to be – all-stars Brendon Kay and Tajh Boyd have held that spot the last two years – Vaughan brings size, pedigree, and experience on an NFL roster. As the Steelers did last year with Boyd, it’s smart to add a quarterback now, and have someone who presumably (the rules are a little difficult to decode) will be able to run the rookie minicamp. A player who knows the offense and isn’t thrown into the fire like everyone who surrounds him. Makes for a much smoother three days and better evalautions.
The Steelers’ backup quarterback situation is unclear. Mike Tomlin expressed at least some desire in looking at his options, hinting at some discomfort with the group he has. Still, if we assume Bruce Gradkowski – or a similar veteran – is signed and Landry Jones remains, Vaughan will have to prove he is worthier than two individuals with gameday experience. That’s a tall task but don’t expect Vaughan to fall flat on his face the way those before him have.