Four Kansas State Wildcats selected in 2023 NFL Draft
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KWCH, Kansas State Athletics) - Four players from Kansas State University heard their names called across the three days of the 2023 NFL Draft held in Kansas City.
Things started at the end of the day one on Thursday when Wildcats edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah went to the hometown Chiefs with the 31st overall pick.
Anudike-Uzomah was the 2022 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after totaling 46 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. He earned multiple All-America accolades, including first-team honors from USA TODAY and second-team honors from the Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Writers Association, American Football Coaches Association and CBS Sports. His 8.5 sacks ranked second in the Big 12 and his two forced fumbles tied for third, while he registered at least a half tackle for loss in nine games and at least a half sack in seven contests.
His teammate on the defensive side of the ball, Julius Brents, heard his name with pick number 44 in the second round. The Indiana native will play for his hometown team like Anudike-Uzomah. Brents began his career at Iowa before transferring to K-State prior to the 2021 season. He played in 46 collegiate games with 32 starts between the Hawkeyes and Wildcats, which included starts in all 27 games over his two-year stint in Manhattan. An All-Big 12 honoree each of the last two seasons – including first-team honors in 2022 – Brents totaled 45 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and eight total passes defended during his senior campaign.
Brents ranked 22nd nationally and third in the Big 12 in total interceptions during the 2022 season, one of which came in the end zone during the Big 12 Championship to halt a potential TCU scoring drive. He also forced his first-career fumble in the championship game following a 31-yard reception.
Then to wrap day three, DB Josh Hayes and RB Deuce Vaughn were selected, both also returning to their home states. Hayes went 181st overall in the 6th round to Tampa Bay, while Vaughn was taken with pick 212 by Dallas.
Hayes transferred from North Dakota State prior to the 2022 season, Hayes playing in 68 career games with 38 starts over parts of six seasons, including 13 starts during his lone season in Manhattan. Despite missing the season opener due to injury, Hayes still ranked third on the team in tackles (71) and tackles for loss (5.5), while he broke up seven passes. His highwater mark for tackles was 11 at Iowa State to go along with a TFL and a pass breakup as he earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Vaughn, a product of Round Rock, Texas, left K-State with the school records for receptions (116) and receiving yards (1,280) by a running back, while he also ranked in the top 10 in 12 other categories. Just the second player in school history to earn two Consensus All-America honors, Vaughn was also just the third player in school history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons, joining Darren Sproles (2002, 2003, 2004) and Daniel Thomas (2009, 2010). Additionally, Vaughn is the only player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in both rushing and receiving, while he was the only player in school history to reach 3,000 all-purpose yards prior to the end of his sophomore season.
In 2022, Vaughn earned First Team All-America honors from Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Sporting News and The Athletic, while he earned All-Big 12 First Team honors as an all-purpose player from the AP as he was the only player in the nation with over 1,500 rushing yards and 350 receiving yards. He ended his junior season ranked eighth nationally in total rushing yards (1,558), 12th in all-purpose yards per game (138.29) and 15th in rushing yards per game (111.3).
Vaughn’s dad Chris is a scout for the Cowboys, and removed himself from the room when his son was discussed among those with the Cowboys. Video from the Dallas draft room as the pick was made shows an emotional Vaughn before his dad tells him the news.
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