STARKVILLE • Chauncey Rivers has experienced quite a bit during his college career.
The former four-star defensive end started out at the University of Georgia, where he played in four games as a true freshman. But three arrests for marijuana possession led to his dismissal from the program and sent him on a life-altering journey.
Rivers began resurrecting his career at East Mississippi Community College and starred in Season 2 of the Netflix series “Last Chance U.” But for the last three years, the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder has hung his helmet up at Mississippi State.
“I feel like God has a plan for everybody,” Rivers said. “You might not always agree with His plan but it’s always going to work out and will be the best for you. I feel like God took me under His wing and made the right path for me. He’s told me the decisions to make and Mississippi State has done well by me coming here.
“I’m glad I am part of this university and brotherhood and appreciate this opportunity.”
Rivers was ruled academically ineligible when he first arrived at MSU in 2017 but credits that time with helping him get his career back on track on the field and in the classroom.
Since then, Rivers has appeared in all 24 games over the last two years with 11 starts and totaled 59 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. He has also obtained a degree in sports management and is currently pursuing a second in communications.
“I feel like that (redshirt) year helped me learn off the field and learn as a football player,” Rivers said. “It helped me this year more than ever.”
On Thursday, Rivers will suit up for MSU as one of 26 seniors playing for the final time at Davis Wade Stadium.
“It’s crazy, it all went by so fast,” Rivers said. “My three years at Mississippi State have been like a blink of an eye. I love this program and this fan base and it’s been great being here. It’s going to be very emotional.
“It’s my last game and it’s going to be a good game. It’s a rivalry on Thanksgiving and it’s a prime time game. We just want to get the W.”
Rivers is the latest in a long line of standouts from Stone Mountain, Georgia, that have had success in Starkville. Fellow defensive ends Preston Smith and Montez Sweat are both starring as outside linebackers in the NFL and current MSU wide receiver Isaiah Zuber also hails from his high school.
“It’s different with us, we’re like brothers,” Rivers said. “We were all raised together and are like a family. When you’re a family, you stick together and that’s a bond that we’ve always had. We talk to each other every day and there’s not a day that we miss where we don’t. That’s just how it is with us.”
Once Rivers has his opportunity in the NFL, he wants to work alongside his former teammates to help give back to their hometown.
“A lot of kids coming out of my community don’t have the chance to make it to these big universities and get a fair chance to do something with their lives,” Rivers said. “I want to affect my community and do something for them.”