Bahn: Minnesota Vikings' Wright, Childs Just The Latest Receiver Greats From Warren

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, May. 1, 2012 1:45 pm  

Hembree has two state championships and has averaged double-digit victories over his career. Those victories and titles are sources of pride for him, but he seems just as proud that the Lumberjacks program is producing players capable of playing as college freshmen. Wright, Childs and Gragg all started and contributed key plays in their first season at Arkansas.

Wright said there was a learning curve in college, but he felt better prepared than some of his teammates as a first-year player.

“They didn’t have to teach us how to catch when we got here,” Wright said. “They didn’t have to teach us how to run a route. We worked and got better, but we had a strong base.”

Bret Smith was the first highly regarded receiver to take what he learned at Warren to the college level. He played at Tennessee and spent some time at varying levels of pro football. Rashaun Fellows played receiver at Warren and converted to defensive back with the Vols.

Hembree recalls thinking at the time he’d never see a player like Smith. Now he’s got two former receivers drafted in the fourth round.

There might be more on the way.

In a chat with Hembree in the hours after Wright and Childs were drafted, he can’t help but point out what’s on the way. There’s a group waiting in the wings that could continue the legacy set by Smith, Fellows, Wright, Childs and Gragg.

College coaches have already made their way to Warren to catch a glimpse of the guys in the pipeline.

Darveon Brown became the first freshman wide receiver to ever start for the Lumberjacks. He’s 5-foot-11, 175 pounds with 4.5 speed. Von Eric Gonder is a 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore with 4.6 speed. Then there’s Chris Oliver, a 5-9, 150-poudner with 4.4 speed that Hembree calls a “carbon copy” of Wright.

“Jarius comes to work out with them and just shakes his head,” Hembree said.

Wright, Childs and Gragg have been regulars around the football facilities even after they left for college. Gragg spent a week after the Cotton Bowl working out with the Lumberjacks. Wright and Childs were back home for their draft parties.

Getting those guys back in Warren gives current Lumberjacks players an in-person glimpse of what they’re working towards.

“It makes it a lot easier for me,” Hembree said. “Our players go home on Saturdays and watch Arkansas play and see three of them out there being successful. And they’re so good about coming back to our school and helping our players. That just keeps paying off for our guys.”



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