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Where are they now?: ‘Last Chance U’ star Chauncey Rivers

Where are they now?: ‘Last Chance U’ star Chauncey Rivers
Chauncey Rivers played in four games with the Green Bay Packers last season before tearing his ACL. (Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (BVM) – Chauncey Rivers has had plenty of ups and downs on his football journey, some which were seen while starring in the second season of Netflix’s hit series, “Last Chance U.” While on the show, Rivers had a strong 2016 season playing for Coach Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi Community College (EMCC), totaling 45 tackles and eight sacks in 12 games for the Lions.

However, prior to that season, Rivers was at one of the low points of his football career. A four-star recruit out of Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia where he compiled over 200 tackles and 25 sacks across his final two seasons, the linebacker got plenty of Power 5 looks, including offers from the likes of Clemson and Auburn. Eventually, he committed to stay home for college and play in the SEC with the Georgia Bulldogs.

As a freshman, Rivers saw little playing time, taking the field in just four games. However, after being arrested on marijuana charges three times in seven months, Rivers was dismissed from the Georgia program late in his freshman year.

Chauncey Rivers Mississippi State football Last Chance U
Chauncey Rivers spent two seasons on the field at Mississippi State. (Credit: Keith Warren/For Clarion Ledger)

That led him to EMCC, where he joined a dominant defensive line that featured multiple Power 5 prospects. While on “Last Chance U,” one of Rivers’ most notable moments came when his mom was asked to be thrown out of the stands by Coach Stephens. Rivers ran from the bench to prevent his mother from being tossed out, and she ended up watching the rest of the game from behind the goal post. During the season, he also created an infamous rap track titled, “For My Momma.”

Regardless of anything happening off the field, Rivers’ play on the gridiron got him another chance in the SEC, this time with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Yet, as quickly as he reached another peak, Rivers again hit a valley, as he had to sit out the 2017 season due to academic reasons.

However, once Rivers got on the field for the Bulldogs, he showed his true upside. In 2018, the defensive end came off the bench, racking up 2.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. 

By 2019, Rivers was named a starter and took a big leap forward, compiling five sacks as a second team All-SEC player. His Bulldogs career ended with 67 total tackles, 15 of which went for loss.

After the 2019 season, Rivers was prepared for his shot at the NFL. 

He was invited to the league’s draft combine, but didn’t have his best showing, running a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash. That combined with his prior off-field issues may have led to him going undrafted. 

However, the defensive end still got his NFL chance when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens. Ironically, the move again reunited him with offensive lineman Tyre Phillips, who Rivers played with at EMCC and Mississippi State as well.

Rivers would have a tough time cracking the rotation for the Ravens in 2020, though. He was called up from the practice squad for one game, getting to play 15 snaps in a Week 12 contest against Pittsburgh.

While the Ravens kept him around on a reserve/future contract throughout the 2021 offseason, by August, they decided to waive the former “Last Chance U” star. Still, his upside would not go unnoticed. Just days after being released, Rivers was scooped up by the Green Bay Packers.

Initially, the Packers seemed like a good fit for Rivers. An uncertain back injury to pass rusher Za’Darius Smith and a significant injury to outside linebacker Randy Ramsey had taken away Green Bay’s pass-rushing depth, allowing Rivers to earn a role.

Chauncey Rivers Green Bay Packers Last Chance U
Chauncey Rivers was beginning to see playing time for the Packers prior to his injury. (Credit: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

He also had plenty of connections to members of the Packers’ team. Smith actually played at EMCC in his collegiate career as well, while outside linebacker Preston Smith went to the same high school as Rivers. Packers lineman Elgton Jenkins also played alongside Rivers at Mississippi State.

After making the 53-man roster out of training camp, Rivers suited up in four games for the Packers, making a tackle in a Week 3 contest against the 49ers and another the following week against the Steelers. 

However, just as it seemed he may be finding his footing, Rivers would suffer an ACL tear during an October practice, ending his season. 

Despite the devastating injury, it’s not the first time Rivers has had to battle back from adversity in his life or career. He continues to work and rehab, awaiting his next NFL opportunity. 

As an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, the Packers declined to tender Rivers’ contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. There’s a chance he could still be in the green and gold come later this summer, or he could pursue the rest of his NFL career elsewhere. No matter where Rivers ends up, the young talent still features enough upside to someday make an impact at the pro level.

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