Chauncey Rivers' road to Mississippi State shown in 'Last Chance U'

Will Sammon
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
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Chauncey Rivers


Through the first four episodes of the second season of Last Chance U, the Netflix series that chronicles East Mississippi Community College’s football program, Chauncey Rivers comes across as an atypical fit for Scooba.

In one early scene, other EMCC players are shown discussing Rivers’ apparent high grades. In the first episode — the season was released last week — Rivers makes an astute comment, saying that the Mississippi school system is likely to blame for many high school football players in the state believing that JUCO is a necessary step in the education process. Rivers’ mother Devaunya described him in a later episode as a "suburb kid" who got his own car one Christmas.

Many players who go the JUCO route either don’t have the grades to go Division I, don’t have the body type scouts look for or simply don’t have the talent. Rivers, a defensive end who is now at Mississippi State after one season at EMCC, had all of that.

What’s more, unlike most of his former EMCC teammates, Rivers (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) had Division I experience, formerly playing at Georgia.

So why was he at EMCC?

That story is covered in the season’s fifth episode.

Rivers was dismissed from Georgia in May 2016 after he was arrested for marijuana for the third time in seven months.

“You knew, ‘If I failed one more drug test, I’m done.’ And you did it anyway,” EMCC counselor Brittany Wagner tells Rivers in one scene. “I would say, OK that means you have a problem.”

In the compelling exchange, Rivers responds: “I don’t picture myself a drug addict because I can sit there and not smoke weed, but it’s like, man, let me just hit this one. Then one turns into two. Bad decision after bad decision.”

After answering “yeah” to the question of if he smoked weed daily, Rivers added he was caught the final time before his dismissal from Georgia in his car after dozing off “real quick.”

Rivers’ first two incidents were misdemeanors. So on the third time, he figured he would be out of jail that same day of the arrest. He wasn’t.

“They told me, ‘Chauncey, you need to sign your paperwork,’” Rivers says to Wagner. “So I was like, ‘Hold up. I’m staying the night?’ She was like, ‘Oh, yeah.’”

After learning he’d be spending the night with convicted murderers or “real deal criminals,” as Rivers put it, Rivers said he then phoned his mother and later broke down in tears.

“You know how folks say you can lose it all so fast?” Rivers tells Wagner, “I had seen my future walk away — in six months.”

Interestingly, Rivers’ and Devaunya’s connection of each having a mug shot actually strengthened their bond, as depicted in the episode. Devaunya, whom Rivers referred to as his best friend, went to prison for a year after being wrongfully convicted of conspiracy, both Rivers and Devaunya say in the episode. The explanation both give about the dynamic is worth watching — as is Rivers recording a song about his mother with a teammate. Yes, the latter really happens.

What also occurs in the season under the headline, “Strange but true,” is a security guard telling Devaunya to leave the stadium after she yells from the stands about EMCC’s apparent lack of film study for its playoff game to the chagrin of EMCC head coach Buddy Stephens. Rivers makes sure Devaunya stays to watch.

That kind of scene isn’t anticipated in Starkville.

But more of what Rivers accomplished on the football field in Scooba, which is also shown in the season, is expected to translate back to the SEC level. Rivers, a four-star signee for MSU, is a key part of the defense that is focusing on rushing the quarterback under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

“Chauncey is a guy that has size, quickness, twitch off the ball and suddenness which can help you create tackle-for-loss plays and can help you in the rush,” Grantham said. “I have been really impressed with his work ethic and his ability to adopt and play multiple positions for us. I certainly expect him to be a part of our success and our rotation of what we do. He will be a guy that will be a major part of what we do.”


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