Bucs Running Back Donning New Look in 2021

KeShawn Vaughn

Getty Tom Brady celebrates a touchdown with Ke'Shawn Vaughn in 2020.

One Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back will change his jersey number for 2021. Second-year back Ke’Shawn Vaughn will wear 21 instead of 30 next fall.

Greg Auman of The Athletic confirmed it in response to a fan who noticed Vaughn’s number 21 jersey for sale on Fanatics.com.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians anticipates a new version of Vaughn in 2021. Arians said he really likes the second-year back from Vanderbilt.

“With an offseason, he’s going to have a really (good) breakout year also,” Arians said in a press conference last month.

Vaughn, who No. 5 in college, couldn’t wear 21 last season since safety Justin Evans wore it last fall. The Bucs waived Evans during the season, which opened the door for someone else to take the number, Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs reported.

Tampa took Vaughn in the third round of the 2020 draft at pick 76. He had a solid college career at Illinois followed by Vanderbilt with two 1,000-yard seasons rushing, and he averaged 9.8 yards per catch out of the backfield for his career.

Signs of Progress

Vaughn played sparingly in 10 games for the Bucs as a rookie in 2020 with 26 carries for 109 yards, a 4.2 yards per carry average. He also had five receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. Arians showed confidence in Vaughn early on and told the rookie “your times coming” per Auman.

In the playoffs, he had five rushes for 21 yards but fumbled once in the Wild Card round at Washington. The Bucs played without starting running back Ronald Jones II, who sat out with a quad injury.

Opportunity awaits Vaughn in 2021, USA Today’s Bucs Wire reported, because starting running back favorites Jones and Leonard Fournette both have a year left on their contracts. Fournette re-signed for less money than the initial free agent market for running backs at $3.25 million, and Jones has a year left on his four-year $7.07 million rookie contract per Over The Cap.

Arians didn’t name a starting running back in his March 30 press conference, reiterating, “there are not starters. This is a new football team.”

“These guys all know what the system is, and the best players are going to play,” Arians said.

Other Number Changes

Vaughn isn’t the first Bucs player to make a jersey change in the past year.

Star wide receiver Chris Godwin notably dropped the number 12 after Tom Brady’s signing, since the quarterback wore 12 for his storied career in New England. Godwin wore 14 last fall.

Auman noted that wide receiver John Franklin, who had 14 before, had to take 19 instead as fellow receiver Breshard Perriman left the team in 2020 for the New York Jets. Some members of the secondary, Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting switcher jersey numbers, too.

Murphy-Bunting, who wore 26 as a rookie in 2019, donned 23 for 2020. Davis, who wore 33 for two seasons, took 24 for 2020 Safety Jordan Whitehead also changed numbers, going from 31 after two seasons to 33 for 2020.

The slew of number changes came amid the team’s uniform change in 2020 when the franchise ditched the alarm-clock numerals on the jerseys. The Bucs tweeted out a nod to the one-year anniversary of the release on Wednesday.

The Bucs went back to their look from the late 1990s and early 2000s when the franchise won its first Super Bowl in 2003. Tampa fittingly won its second Super Bowl in 2020 amid a return to the past.

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