EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — As the new kid in town, Greg Childs had to work his way into the in crowd.
After a few tough years, he cracked the clique in the tiny southern Arkansas town of Warren. Jarius Wright, the ringleader, was obviously impressed because 15 years later, Childs is still by his side.
"We always do things together. This just makes us get even closer," Childs said Friday as they both began their NFL careers at Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp.
The wide receivers were picked in the fourth round last weekend by a team counting on them to continue their successful run together. They've long pondered this almost-too-good-to-be-true scenario, but realized they had no control over the draft.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier spoke with them about their remarkable story of staying-together power.
"They are reminding me, 'Coach, we've always been winners. Everywhere we went,'" Frazier said. "I said, 'Hallelujah! We'll take that. Bring some of that with you.' We're glad to have them and looking forward to seeing how they progress."
The relationship started at recess, and it was rocky at first. Football was a serious enough subject there that the young students made their own playbooks.
"We never picked Greg. We always wanted to be the ones who tackled him," Wright said. "He used just to go stay in the end zone where we couldn't hit him, and they used to just throw the ball as far as they can and he'd jump over everybody and catch it."
That ability to go get the ball in tight coverage is a big reason the Vikings were interested in Childs. It was also what caught Wright's eye.
"We got older, and we finally realized, 'Hey, he can play some sports. OK, so we can be friends with this guy now,'" Wright said.
They grew up together and became two of the four players from Warren High School to sign with the University of Arkansas in 2008. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Childs blossomed first, leading the Razorbacks in nearly every receiving category as a sophomore in 2009, including 48 catches for 894 yards and seven touchdowns.
He was on track for an even bigger junior year with 46 catches for 659 yards when he tore the patella tendon in his right knee in the eighth game against Vanderbilt. His senior year was rough after, he later acknowledged, he returned too soon. The Vikings watched him fall down the draft board, anticipating his bounce-back season will be this one.
"If that's the case, we'll be the beneficiaries and he could be the steal of the draft," Frazier said.