Draft pick Justin Vaughn is a Ticat – just like his Dad

Justin Vaughn sat on the couch in his dorm room at Fordham University in New York staring at his laptop. Every 30 seconds, the CFL Draft Tracker would refresh and he would hope to see his name. It was a slow and agonizing process.

More than 750 km away, Vaughn’s father Mike sat on the couch in his family home on the West Mountain watching the livestream of the draft . He was nervous, too. So to pass the time, father and son chatted away on Skype.

Following along on his phone, Justin’s 15-year-old brother Quincy figured it out first.

“Hey Dad, I think Justin just got drafted by the Ticats,” he said.

Soon, they were all in tears.


Mike Vaughn came to Hamilton in 1989 to play football, spending the latter part of the season on the Ticats practice roster as a back up running back. He played in one game, against Winnipeg, and was released the following season.

But instead of going home Colorado, Vaughn stayed in Canada.

“I met my wife, fell in love, started a career and been here ever since,”Vaughn said. “I loved the country, loved the city and people treated me well so I decided to stay.”

Three sons would follow and they all found their way to football. Mike was involved in Justin’s development at every level, including home workouts so gruelling they’d spend the rest of the evening in an uncomfortable silence.

“My Dad knows what it takes and he put me through a lot of stuff during those workouts and I’d be so angry I just didn’t want to talk to him,” Justin says now. “I was just a stubborn kid who thought he knew what the world was.

“He wanted this for me but he never pushed me. He showed the way but it was up to me to follow through.”

Despite a stellar career as a linebacker at Sir Allan McNab high school, it took a year at the sports academy Canada Prep in Welland to get Justin on the radar at NCAA programs. It required an investment by the family and it came after a tearful conversation in which Justin told his father that playing professional football was the thing he wanted most.

“It was fulling for me because I know what his dream was,” Mike said. “I’ve seen the work and the sacrifice, his dedication to his dream.”

That extra season led to a scholarship offer from Fordham where Vaughn blossomed into a dominant force along the defensive line (growing to 6-foot-5, 285 pounds didn’t hurt, either.) As a senior last season, Vaughn was named first team All-Patriot League and the Ram’s defensive player of the year.

Vaughn comes to a Ticat squad with plenty of talent and depth at the defensive tackle position, including perennial all-star Ted Laurent and fourth-year man Mike Atkinson as well as youngster Evan Gill. The team will likely start at least one Canadian at the position and possible two.

“Given his stature, I’m hoping that Ted is willing to teach me some of the tricks that he’s learned over the years,” Vaughn said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

With just a few weeks before training camp, Vaughn will finish up his degree in sociology and anthropology – he’s got an exam and two essays left – before heading… well, home.

“Coming full circle isn’t something many people get to experience,” Vaughn said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling. Beyond happiness.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1312 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

18 Comments on Draft pick Justin Vaughn is a Ticat – just like his Dad

  1. Michael Vaughn // May 10, 2017 at 6:29 pm //

    Drew.., Bullseye…!
    Thank You for the Article on The Vaughn Family. You stirred a bit of emotion in me because you expressed through your words the joy of Draft Day along with the commitment it takes to get there.
    ‘ It Takes A Village To Raise A Child :.
    You have my number if you ever need anything of me or of my Boys.
    FYI: Keep an Eye on Quincy Vaughn.
    Sincerely Happy..,
    Michael Vaughn

  2. I don’t remember Mike but I am hoping Justin will make some impact.

    • mightypope // May 11, 2017 at 12:34 pm //

      Michael Vaughn played his one and only game in the last game of the 1990 season in Winnipeg against the Bombers. He had 7 carries for 28 yards and 1 pass reception for 3 yards in the 32-15 loss.Unfortunately he had to experience being coached by the one and only Dave Beckman. (OMG!!!)

      • Well at least he was not asked to do one of those quick punts out of the backfield on first and 10 that Beckman was so famous for calling!

      • Thanks… I had buried the memories of the Beckman era. Including his patented “CFL” play, which was an acronym for (and I may be incorrect here) the “Canadian Flying Loonie”

        Was that the quick punt Mark refers to? I’ve repressed that play much more deeply.

  3. Solara2000 // May 10, 2017 at 6:46 pm //

    Nice to read Dad’s pride beaming through. Open and straight-forward.
    Good luck to Justin and all the other young men trying to fulfill their dreams in the CFL.

  4. Daniele Franceschi // May 10, 2017 at 7:03 pm //

    Excellent piece, Drew. Congratulations to the Vaughn family!

    All the best in Tiger-Town.

    Daniele Franceschi

  5. These are the stories I love retelling when I’m asked why I love the CFL – because as Canadians we each have some skin in the game. Whether it is a former player who liked what he saw and set down roots in a new country, just look at the number of kids now from Canada who are sons of former CFL or NFL players (oh and a big congratulations to the entire Vaughan family – it must be an incredible time in your household!) or your nephew’s cousin’s son or the grandson of the neighbour you lived beside 15 years ago; we’re all connected to this game…

    Keep it Canadian, eh!

  6. Jimmy Breslin // May 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm //

    Great story thanks for sharing !

  7. Welcome home Justin! Looking forward to seeing you on the field in black and gold!

  8. Lindsay Wilcox // May 10, 2017 at 9:42 pm //

    Great story, great father + great son = great family.

  9. Scottsask // May 10, 2017 at 10:23 pm //

    Great article

  10. Always great to hear of the next in line in a CFL family following in a fathers steps. Many more stories like this one I’m sure as time goes by.

  11. Paul Garner // May 11, 2017 at 7:19 am //

    I didn’t really know Justin Vaughn but after reading the story I have become a big fan and I’m pulling for him to make the team and carve out a future in the CFL – hopefully with Hamilton Tiger Cats. But make or not, it would appear that this young man will do just fine in life because he has the backing and support of a great family and an especially proud father. Great read Drew. I really enjoyed it.

  12. moncton ticats fan // May 11, 2017 at 7:52 am //

    As others have stated – a nice story about what sounds like a nice family. These stories are always a pleasure to read. It is also noteworthy there aren’t any comments from “Negative Neds” who promptly share their “opinions” on other CFL news.

  13. As a Hamilton kid, product of the HMFA and Hamilton Catholic HS system, this story resonates with me. The more Hamilton kids on the Cats, the better!

  14. I’ll be pulling for Justin when he’s on the field. Good luck to him and his family.

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