JP Vaught set the tone for his high school football career the first time he touched the ball.
In the 2015 Don Marshall Bowl, Vaught caught a punt and returned it to the house for a 44-yard touchdown.
That 57-0 season-opening win over Harlan County, in a way, set the stage for an electrifying and exciting career for the Southwestern High School senior student-athlete.
“I think that game, as a whole, sort of made me realize that I’m a dynamic player,” began Vaught. “I think as my high school career played on, I lived up to that. I like that kind of stuff, I like being different and grabbing the attention of the crowd.”
Not only does Vaught capture the attention from the fans with his lightning speed, his positive attitude and respect towards others catches the eye from the folks within the Warrior Nation.
“Being known as the fast kid is always fun, but it’s also cool to be known as the kid with the flashy cleats or the one that jokes around with the fans,” continued the Warrior senior. “I think it represents me and my personality.”
Since that August evening in 2015, Vaught has scored a lot of touchdowns on the football field and tallied a pair of state titles on the track circuit. Vaught came in wanting to make an impact on the Warrior program, and he thinks that he has done just that, but not without the help from others.
“I’ve been pretty happy with my career so far,” said Vaught. “I came in wanting to make an impact on the program while also becoming a better football player, and with the help my coaches have given me, I think I’ve accomplished that. I’m not going to say that I’ve singlehandedly impacted the program, because to me, it’s been a group effort between past, present, and future players to make a name for our team and represent our town.”
In three years on the Warrior football team, Vaught has a played pivotal role in the Warriors’ back-to-back district championships (2016 and 2017). In those district championship seasons, Southwestern has also tallied regional runner-up finishes.
As a freshman, Vaught caught ten passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The then-freshman also had 80 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Vaught had a monster sophomore campaign, hauling in 47 receptions for 1,144 yards and 13 touchdowns. The wideout, who scored 84 points himself, carried the ball on six occasions for 35 yards.
Last season, Vaught had 930 yards and seven touchdowns on 52 catches. Vaught also carried the ball 21 times last season for 386 yards and six scores.
After three seasons as a Warrior, Vaught has racked up 2,286 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns on 109 catches. Vaught has already broken several school records heading into his senior season, but he’s looking to shatter some more in 2018.
Vaught will look to improve on those numbers this year, and hopefully lead the Warriors to a third straight district banner and second regional championship in program history.
Heading into the 2018 season, the senior has racked up preseason accolades, as he was tabbed as the Cats’ Pause Class 5A District 7 Preseason Player of the Year. While Vaught is excited about the preseason honor, his goals are centered around the team.
“Being named preseason player of the year means a lot to me, because there’s a load of talent in our district. It’s pretty cool knowing that out of everyone, I stick out,” added Vaught. “But as cool as it is, I’m not going to let that get in the way of the vision we have as a team to be successful this season.”
It’s no secret that colleges and universities will be in contact with Vaught before, during, and after his senior season. Before the season has gotten underway, Vaught has already received one official offer from Fordham University.
“Right now, I’ve got one official offer from Fordham University in New York City,” concluded the Southwestern speedster. “They’re a Division One, Patriot League program, and I couldn’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity that they have.”
Vaught and the Warriors will begin their 2018 season on Friday, August 17th, when the Warriors will go up against Jeffersonville (Indiana) in the newly-named Don Franklin Bowl.
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter – @GetChili22