Printer Friendly

GRUNT,NOT PUNT LINEMAN HAS NO FEAR, EXCEPT BEHIND THE LINE.

Byline: Gideon Rubin Staff Writer

CANYON COUNTRY - Justin Vaughn believes in living life to its fullest, without fear.

He surfs without worrying about sharks, and heights don't seem to bother him too much when he snowboards.

So the 300-pound linemen he battles on both sides of the line of scrimmage each week?

Not a problem.

Canyon High's returning All-Foothill League second-team offensive lineman, who also starts at nose guard, said bring on the contact.

Extreme sports. Football. Not much of anything seems to frighten the 6-foot-2, 227-pound Vaughn.

One notable exception, though: punting.

Out of necessity, he recently was anointed the Cowboys' starting punter, a position he played at the freshman and junior varsity levels, but he said he is uncomfortable about playing it on varsity.

``I'm a little nervous back there because I'm not very good,'' Vaughn said. ``I'm a defensive lineman. I just do it because nobody else can. I do it because the team needs me to do it.''

As if he needed added pressure, Vaughn replaces Mike Lingua, one of the region's best punters last season, who's now at Fresno State on a full scholarship.

``Defensive line? No problem,'' Vaughn said. ``You put me in a clutch situation and I'll get the job done. I've done that my whole life. I just really don't want to get the ball and punt in front of a bunch of people because I'll probably mess up.''

Canyon, which played host to nonleague opponent Lancaster on Thursday in the regular-season opener for both teams, hopes its offense doesn't need to punt too often.

But if the Cowboys don't execute on third downs, coach Harry Welch is confident Vaughn will deliver.

``I feel comfortable with him back there,'' Welch said. ``We're not asking him to be a great punter.''

Vaughn did have success punting in a scrimmage against Crespi of Encino last week. He didn't kick spirals that would make Cowboys fans forget Lingua, but being able to get the ball downfield without incident qualified as a confidence builder for Vaughn, who hadn't punted in two years.

Nevertheless, he remains apprehensive.

``It's just weird,'' Vaughn said. ``Everybody knows you're going to get the ball so everybody's looking at you. I just try to focus on the ball and block everything else out, but it usually doesn't work.

``You're back there by yourself, and if you mess up everybody sees it and everybody knows it. All eyes are on you.''

And however proficient he becomes at his new position, Vaughn knows the spectacle of a defensive lineman punting will make him the butt of jokes for many weeks to come.

``He's really not punter material,'' Canyon long-snapper Gregory Titiriga said. ``We used to joke about it when he was on the freshman team, that he was going to be the punter on varsity, but we never thought it was going to happen. Now that it is, it's pretty funny. It's hilarious.''

Joking aside, Vaughn knows his teammates are counting on him to take punting seriously.

``I didn't at first, and my coaches were getting mad at me because I thought it was just a joke, but I really am the punter now and I really have to practice,'' Vaughn said. ``It's terrible.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Canyon High offensive lineman Justin Vaughn thinks nothing about going against players as big as 300 pounds, even though he's under 230.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2002 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 13, 2002
Words:570
Previous Article:BEST DAYS ARE AHEAD FOR COC'S MILLER PASSION BACK IN HIS SECOND STINT AT FOOTBALL.
Next Article:JV ROUNDUP: TIMING COULDN'T BE BETTER FOR CANYON COWBOYS' RALLY TO BEAT LANCASTER ON FINAL PLAY.


Related Articles
Maximizing field position with punting zones.
"V-I-C-T-O-R-Y" The Safest Play in Football.
CSUN NOTEBOOK: HOW ABOUT CSUN-UCLA IN 2002 SEASON OPENER?
UCLA NOTEBOOK : KICKER SAILER PULLS TRIPLE DUTY FOR UCLA.
UCLA NOTEBOOK: TOLEDO REVEALS FORMULA FOR STRONG STRETCH DRIVE.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: TRYING HARD TO BREAK OUT STOKES HAS BEEN STRUGGLING.
Oregon gets best of special teams.
Strategizing the punt formation.
Ducks look for more protection from shield.
Two steps, giant leap.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters