On Wednesday, voting begins on the University of Mississippi campus as students vote in the final stage of choosing a mascot to represent the Ole Miss athletic teams.
That is a big thing happening at Ole Miss today, but far, far from the Oxford campus a young man who recently played four years for the Rebels as an outstanding defensive back is making a name for himself with the Denver Broncos.
Cassius Vaughn is a young fellow than many fans don’t know, but he represents the fact that the National Football League is a meritocracy in which everyone has a chance.
Vaughn made the Broncos as an undrafted college free agent, in the spirit and tradition of players like teammate Wesley Woodyard, all-time great Bronco receiver Rod Smith and many others in Denver and throughout the NFL.
Vaughn played in 50 career games at Ole Miss, with 24 starts, and his career stats shows 152 tackles, five interceptions, 20 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
That latter stat has carried right over into NFL play for the young Memphis native, as Cassius Vaughn currently leads all NFL rookies in fumble recoveries with two and is tied for the turnover lead among all players with two.
One of the fastest players on the Denver roster, he was signed after the NFL draft in April, came to Denver, worked hard, did what he was told, and impressed his coaches throughout training camp among a bevy of talented defensive backs.
Fans might have noticed him with the big fumble recovery that helped secure the win at Tennessee last week.
So while Cassius is no longer on campus and able to cast his vote for Rebel Land Shark, Rebel Black Bear or a character named Hotty Toddy (evidently Rebel Lion and Rebel Stallion have been eliminated–really, I could not make this stuff up!), he is in meetings and at practice preparing for week five of the NFL season.
And by the reality of his position and the example of his performance, he is showing it’s how you work and how you play, not where and when you are drafted, that impresses coaches the most.
The meritocracy moves on.