April 30, 2012
OXFORD, Ohio -- Though he played the final collegiate game of his career last November, the game of football isn't out of Chris Givens' life just yet. The wide receiver from Chillicothe has signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Givens, who graduated from Miami last December, was hoping to land with a team that could maximize his skill set.
"My agent and I thought that the Saints were my best fit," Givens said. "I'm really blessed to have this opportunity. There's a sense of relief, but I'm ecstatic about what's in front of me."
Givens will be competing for a spot on a team that features all-star quarterback Drew Brees and veteran wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore.
The Saints coaching staff has a definite Miami feel and Givens is looking forward to meeting the fellow Miami men.
"I know Charles Byrd (New Orleans' assistant strength & conditioning coach) and I'm looking forward to working with Coach D (Dan Dalrymple, strength & conditioning)," said Givens. "It will feel nice, but I know there's going to be a lot of hard work."
During his Miami career, Givens had 157 catches (seventh on Miami's all-time list) for 2,121 yards (seventh) and 15 touchdowns.
Givens is awaiting directions from the Saints regarding when he'll report for workouts.
This story about Chris Givens appeared in the Chillicothe Gazette last January.
CHILLICOTHE -- This is a busy time for Chris Givens. He's about a month removed from his graduation from Miami University, where he spent four seasons with the Redhawks football team and earned his bachelor's degree in health and sports studies.
He's also about a week short of his 23rd birthday, a time always full of activity when you're young and live a life full of friends.
Then there's his Pro Day coming up in a couple months -- a high-intensity job interview, basically, where college football players looking to take their game to the next level work out for NFL scouts. That will unfold in March, and Givens is spending most of his time these days training for the event with a company in Cincinnati called Ignition.
There's a lot going on for the 2007 Chillicothe graduate. But when you talk to Givens, none of it is the first thing on his mind.
"The one thing I want to do is take the GMAT, the test you need to get in business school," he said. "To be honest with you, my short-term goal is to get my MBA in management or finance. I've always wanted to start my own foundation, and an MBA will help me understand the elements to do that successfully."
Givens' time at Miami helped him connect the dots between what he saw in his college life and his roots.
"This has been on my mind since my sophomore year (at Miami)," he said. "Since leaving Chillicothe, I've been very blessed with getting an athletic scholarship and with some of the other opportunities I've had. So, when I look at something like starting a foundation, what I'd hope for out of that is to show some kids the importance of going on and taking that next step after high school.
"The truth is, a lot of the time it isn't what you know, it's who you know. Chillicothe is an area with a lot of talent, but a lot of those kids might not have the same kind of opportunity where somebody can kind of connect with them, and lead them through the steps you have to take.
"To be honest, I wake up every day wanting to inspire somebody to go on to college, and do it the right way. That might sound like political talk or whatever, but I know how important the right resources can be to somebody trying to take that next step. In my life, my family -- my parents and my siblings have been huge for me -- and some of the people I've met here at Miami through mentorships and things like that have made a big difference. I want to think I can have that kind of impact on somebody else."
Going after an MBA would mean another two years or so of school for Givens, which he's prepared for. There's still that other matter to consider first -- a life in the NFL.
"I don't know if it's a future for me, but do I want it to be? Absolutely, yes," he said. "Do I want it to be a long career? Absolutely. But that stuff isn't up to me. That's between the Man above and the people who will be writing your checks."
It's about more than the checks for Givens.
"I love football with a capital L," he said. "Football, for me, has been my military. It's been my academy. That's where I learned my discipline, and it's helped me become a better gentleman. It's helped me understand what it means to be fortunate and blessed.
"That's nothing I've taken out of a book or something somebody has told me. That's the stuff I sit down and think about. I know what I've been able to get out of the game, on and off the field."
Givens wasn't invited to March's NFL rookie combine, which makes a spot in the draft a long shot. But considering the way the league has started to pay special attention to Pro Days and to undrafted free agents hungry for a spot on an NFL roster, that's where this focus comes from with Givens, including his dedication to Ignition's eight-week prep program for Pro Days.
"This process is obviously about making yourself physically as great as you can in a short amount of time," he said. "You push yourself to the limits on that side, but it's also an education. You have to understand what it takes to make an NFL team. Are you the right fit on the field? But it's also a (public relations) thing. You name carries a certain amount of weight, and these scouts are going to know all about that going in."
With his college career behind him -- his career numbers at Miami were 157 catches for 2,121 yards and 15 touchdowns -- Givens has plenty of memories between the lines and off the field.
"As an athlete, the MAC championship was the greatest feeling I've experienced," he said of the school's 2010 conference title. "It wasn't just the way that game ended or winning a trophy or a ring. It was the frustrations we went through along the way. All that, all the effort that 105 guys put in for a long time, came together in a 60-minute football game and on that final drive. That's what people don't see. And that's what made it so overwhelming.
"On the other side, you get to know so many good people. Faculty members, alumni, supporters and things like that. Genuine people who are willing to support you. This is a place where people are always behind you and willing to do what they can to help. That's been impressive, and it's a good feeling to kind of be part of that fraternity."