RB Hebron carves spot with Eagles Strong preseason helps Gibbons grad

August 31, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Vaughn Hebron completed his improbable journey from free-agent running back to a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster yesterday.

When the Eagles open their NFL season Sunday at home against the Phoenix Cardinals, Hebron, who starred at Cardinal Gibbons High, will be the backup tailback behind Herschel Walker.

And Siran Stacy, the Eagles' top draft pick from a year ago, will be gone.

That's how cut-down day in Philadelphia went. Hebron, undrafted out of Virginia Tech last spring, made the team while Stacy, a second-round pick in 1992, was cut. In the end, Hebron's preseason performance held more luster than Stacy's draft history.

In four games, Hebron, at 5 feet 8, 196 pounds, rushed for 239 yards and one touchdown, averaging seven yards per carry. He also had 10 catches for 132 yards, and returned four kickoffs.

Hebron was one of two rookies to earn a spot with the Eagles. The other was free agent Marcus Thomas.

"These kids just went out and played," said Eagles coach Rich Kotite. "You say he [Stacy] was a second-round draft choice. Well, I'm making a big mistake if I keep somebody I don't think is deserving of staying.

"That's the bottom line for me, keeping the best players. It doesn't matter where they come from. If you have to cut somebody you had high hopes for, you can't worry about it. You got to go on."

The Eagles also cut running back Tony Brooks, a fourth-round draft choice out of Notre Dame in 1992.

In Hebron, the Eagles see a younger version of the New York Giants' Dave Meggett (Towson State). They are expected to use him in a similar manner, as a third-down back who can beat a defense with his speed and pass-catching ability.

A native of Catonsville, Hebron rushed for 3,003 yards and scored a school-record 62 touchdowns in four years at Gibbons. He scored 30 touchdowns as a senior, when he was The Baltimore Sun's Offensive Player of the Year.

Hebron led Virginia Tech last season with 579 rushing yards but went unclaimed in the NFL's new eight-round draft in April.

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