By Justin Rust
Of the Commercial Staff
Two months after the NFL draft, Warren natives Greg Childs and Jarius Wright still get questions and comments about how both of their paths have stayed the same.
The two met when Childs moved from Hermitage in the third grade. Wright and Childs teamed out to help lead Warren to the 2006 state title game, which Nashville won in double overtime.
Wright and Childs followed each other to the University of Arkansas, and even though both players were projected to be picked in last April’s NFL Draft, the union was apparently over. The Vikings threw the two for a loop, though, when they not only took Wright with the 23rd pick in the fourth round, but also took Childs 16 picks later in the same round.
Wright said talking about two sticking together has never gotten old, either.
“It will always be pretty cool,” said Wright in a phone conversation. “It’s still talked about, and every day we show up, it’s something we have been dealing with. The surrealness of it will never wear off.”
While the thought of ending up on the same team seemed like a very distant possibility, Childs knew there was a chance it could happen.
“We joked about it a couple times that we would go to the same team, and it happened,” Childs said. “It’s not really a big deal to us, but we understand that not a lot of players like us go to in the same round to the same team at the same position.”
Childs and Wright will presumably be around each other for four more years, which is how long each of their rookie contracts are for. Wright’s contract is worth at total of $2,520,108, which included a signing bonus of $420,108. Childs’s signed a $2,400,584 total contract with a signing bonus of $300,584.
Warren football coach Bo Hembree said being with the Vikings is a great situation for both of them.
“I have talked to them a lot, about once a week, and they are doing really good,” he said. “Hopefully they can contribute this year. They are winners and they have won in every sport they have ever played in.”
Now the focus for the two wide receivers is learning the Vikings’ playbook and try and move up the depth chart. The learning curve began with a rookie camp and the two have been through three OTAs (Organized Team Activities) so far.
“It’s going really good and I’ve got the plays down and getting used to the speed of the game,” Wright said. “You get more used to everything at an NFL speed.”
Wright practiced at flanker and slot receiver during OTAs and said he has been used as a punt returner.
Childs missed parts of the OTAs with a calf strain, and he was held out until he was fully healthy.
“The trainers and coaches had me sitting out until I was 100 percent ready to go,” he said. “It was not really serious and they didn’t want to rush me back.”
Of course, injuries have been a bit of a concern for Childs. After catching 46 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns in eight games in his junior year, Childs tore his patella tendon in his knee and it ended his season.
Childs admitted he was not 100 percent this past season for Arkansas and caught 21 passes for 240 yards, causing his draft stock to slip. Childs said that left him with something to prove as he starts his NFL career.
“I am sure everyone in the draft in some way thinks they should’ve been drafted higher,” he said. “Most definitely I do have a chip on my shoulder and have something to prove, and I am going to give it my all.”
Childs, along with Wright, could have a chance to show that teams should have taken them higher in the draft right away. After Percy Harvin, who caught 87 passes for Minnesota last year, there could be some openings on the depth chart for the two wide receivers.
After Harvin, the Vikings did not have a wide receiver with more than 40 receptions. Minnesota did sign Jerome Simpson, who caught 50 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns for Cincinnati last season, but he is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.
If Wright and Childs prove themselves in training camp, they could see a good amount of playing time during the regular season.
“Head coach (Leslie Frazier) told us that he is going to play whoever deserves it,” Wright said. “If you are doing everything right, you are going to get playing time.
“It’s not just trying to make the team either, but make an impact on the team and help the team be more successful.”
The Vikings need players that can make them more successful after a 3-13 campaign and a passing attack that ranked 28th in the NFL with 184.8 yards a game. Childs said even if he and Wright make the rotation at wide receiver, they will strive for even more success.
“You can never be satisfied and there’s always this hunger,” he said. “We want to get out there and play and have a chance at doing great things.”