DENVER (CBS4) – Chase Vaughn is one of 90 players on the Broncos roster, but the story of how he got there is one in a million.
Vaughn’s football career began like most. He played high school ball at Smoky Hill in Aurora, started his college career at Division II Adams State than transfered to Colorado State University Pueblo to be closer to home. It was at Pueblo that the defensive end started pulling off his trademark move — “the jump.”
“‘The jump;’ you know it started out as kind of something at halftime that first game, I believe it was New Mexico Highlands, the running back there, he was pretty short. Everybody was like, ‘Chase, stop going around him, just jump over him.’ I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll jump over him,’ ” Vaughn said. “I don’t think people realized I was going to do it, so I did it. All of the sideline went crazy, the crowd went crazy.”
“The jump” is just one way Vaughn displayed is athletic ability. Another was sacking the quarterback. He racked up 15 1/2 sacks in two seasons with the Thunderwolves, including 10 1/2 over a 10-game stretch. After graduation he felt he’d at least get an NFL tryout, but that’s not who called.
“The first offer I got was from the UFL. That was the United Football League for the Las Vegas Locomotives … I went through training camp, definitely had to catch up to people learning curve-wise. In college I got away with doing stuff using my athletic ability, not really football knowledge on a lot of things,” he said. “It wasn’t enough at camp, I actually got cut.”
Little did he know that would be the first of many teams. From there he went to the Indoor Football League to play for the Colorado Ice in Fort Collins.
“Played there for five games until I actually got another call to come back and play in the UFL.”
So he went back to Las Vegas.
“I had a great camp, everything was great, numbers thing, got cut.”
From there he went to the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL.
“Canada, went through all of training camp, two preseason games in Canada, got cut in Canada.”
Then he went back to Las Vegas in the UFL.
“Finally I made the team and the UFL folded.”
From there he went to the Spokane Shock of the Arena League.
“So I went to the Shock, made the team, was on the team for the majority of the season and I ended up getting released (with) about four or so games left.”
So after trying to play for four teams in four different pro leagues, Vaughn decided maybe it was time for a change. So he took a desk job at National Jewish Health, which was great for about 4 weeks.
“That lasted about a month of me sitting in a cubicle and I realized, ‘No, I can’t do this, I’m not done yet, I’ve got a lot more I need to give to the game of football.’ It kind of ate away at me, I still haven’t been to the NFL, still haven’t gotten my shot at the NFL.”
So when he wasn’t working his desk job he trained and finally got a call to try out for the Broncos. They liked what they saw and invited him to rookie camp. The only problem was he had to call in sick so he could go to camp.
“I did have to have the stomach flu for a couple of days to get off. And then one of the days I used my vacation day that made up rookie camp there.”
After the three day mini-cap, Vaughn sat at his locker wondering if he’d done enough to make the roster.
“I saw one of the guys … the guy who was supposed to grab the player they were going to sign; I saw him walk into the locker room. I kind of looked at him and he looked at me, he kind of looked past me. I was like, ‘You know Chase, God has a plan for you, just be happy you’re here … it’s awesome you’re here.’
“I looked ahead, started getting dressed and sure enough he came and tapped me on the shoulder. I kind of looked at him … he was like, ‘Hey, we need you upstairs.’ I was like, ‘Okay, for what?’ He turned around and was like, ‘Congratulations, by the way.’ I was like, ‘For what?’ He said, ‘You made the team, we’re going to sign you.’ I hugged him, did a little 360 hug.”
There’s no guarantee Vaughn will make the final 53-man roster, but even if he doesn’t he’s happy knowing he at least got his shot in the NFL.
“I’m just going to give it my best shot, and regardless of what happens, I’m happy. I’m so happy, I’m so blessed that I finally got this chance.”