On Aug. 4, 2012, Greg Childs leapt to catch a pass during a Minnesota Vikings scrimmage. The ball was thrown behind him, forcing an awkward landing that tore both of his patellar tendons. It was an “extremely rare” injury that forever changed Childs’ career path.
Instead of playing his rookie season as a wide receiver in Minneapolis, the former Arkansas star was forced to sit out and recover. And recover. And recover. Finally, the Vikings released him in 2014, and he’s been working his way back toward the NFL since.
Over the past few weeks, Childs has been practicing and playing in the Spring League, a second-year organization that gives pro hopefuls a chance to get in front of scouts.
Thus far, Childs has been happy with the results.
“We had scouts down here standing on the sideline,” he told SEC Country in a phone interview Tuesday. “They just can’t believe that I’m here doing no-hands backflips, jumping 40-inch verticals, jumping 11-[foot]-2 broad jumps. They’re asking me, ‘Are you good?’ And I’m just like, ‘Do I look good?’”
You might have heard of the Spring League recently thanks to participation from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. He and Childs are teammates, and Childs said the pair like to get meals together and reminisce about the Arkansas-Texas A&M rivalry.
“He hasn’t given me any indication that he’s the old Johnny,” Childs said of Manziel’s less-than-stellar reputation. “Everything I’ve seen to now, he’s moving forward.”
Manziel’s appearance in Austin motivated Childs to join up. Nearly two-thirds of NFL teams were expected to be in attendance; many of which would be keeping an eye on Manziel.
It was simple logic: If scouts are watching Manziel throw the ball, they’re probably watching the guy who catches it.
“All the things I was doing before,” Childs said, “I’m doing them all, but slightly better.”
He added: “I’m just waiting on the call. Whoever it is. I’m putting it on film. At practice, they can see me running by people, beating people off the press like it’s nobody’s business. So I just need the call. I’m gonna put in the work myself.”
Coach Terry Shea has noticed Childs on the practice field — and likes his athleticism — though the competition has been stiff.
“In terms of his freakiness as an athlete, I’d say he’s certainly in the upper echelon of that [wide receivers’] group,” Shea told SEC Country. “But we have a lot of talented guys here as well. So he’s one of a half dozen.”
Childs caught 133 passes for 2,066 yards and 15 touchdowns in his Arkansas career. He and ex-Hogs teammate Jarius Wright were both graduates of Warren (Ark.) High School, and both were selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
While Childs sat out with his injuries, Wright flourished. He played six seasons in Minnesota before signing with the Carolina Panthers this winter.
His old buddy is ready to join him again.
“I’m too good at this to just let it go,” Childs said.
You can watch Greg Childs play his final Spring League game with Johnny Manziel on Thursday night (5:30 p.m. CT, Turner Sports Network).