Tucker linebacker James Vaughters, the No. 1 linebacker in the state and most sought-after recruit in Atlanta, committed to Stanford on Thursday.
He chose the Cardinal over four other finalists: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Ohio State. In total. he had compiled scholarship offers from more than 35 schools nationwide.
Vaughters, a 4.0 student at Tucker, said he chose Stanford because of its combination of great academics and great football under coach Jim Harbaugh.
“I honestly believe we can do something at Stanford that has never been done and that is win a championship,” said Vaughters, who is considering majoring in architectural engineering.
In his prepared statement, Vaughters said of Stanford:
“Stanford University is a long distance from home but they have a beautiful campus, perfect climate, and I feel that they have great opportunities that I can utilize. They are a top academic school that is compared to the Ivy League, but compete in Division I football and a top conference in the Pac-10. They are also making great strides to become a championship caliber football team. Coach Vic Fangio, the new defensive coordinator, runs the 3-4 defense and I feel like he has the experience in the NFL that I will be able to feed off, to hopefully prepare myself for the NFL. They have done well in recruiting recently and improve more and more every year. I believe that they have potential to be great in many aspects.”
After the ceremony Vaughters said Georgia Tech and Ohio State probably tied for second for his services, followed by Georgia and Alabama.
Vaughters made the announcement before family, friends and teammates at a gathering a Rock Hard Fitness in Tucker, where he has trained since he was in the eighth grade. His mother and father, Vanessa and Jonathan Vaughters, stood on either side of him as he read a prepared statement and then followed his announcement of Stanford by donning a Cardinal cap.
Vaughters (6-2, 235) said he actually has had his mind made up a while. He said he called Coach Harbaugh to inform him about 9 o’clock Wednesday night.
“He was really excited,” Vaughters said. “He put me on hold and called all the other coaches into his office and they started yelling and screaming and going nuts. They were pretty happy about it.”
Asked about playing college football so far from home, Vaughters said: “No matter where I go to college I’m going to be away from home and get homesick I’m sure,” he said. “This is just a little farther away. I really didn’t see it as an obstacle.”
His parents disagreed on a that point.
“That’s a tough one,” Jonathan Vaughters said. “From a distance factor we liked Georgia, Georgia Tech and even Alabama a little more.”
Said Mrs. Vaughters: “I’ve already applied at Delta, United Airlines, Amtrak, Greyhound, for some kind of deal. Please let me know if anybody has any connections.”
Tucker head coach Franklin Stephens put Vaughters’ choice into perspective.
“If James is lucky he will be through with football by the time he’s 35,” Stephens said. “So he’ll have a long career after football. What better place to prepare for that than Stanford University?”
Here’s Vaughters’ thoughts on his other four finalists: