Receiver living a dream

For Chris Samp, the dream is in living color with a heavy accent on green and gold. The wide receiver, who signed as a free agent with the Packers after the recent NFL Draft, grew up and attended high school in Green Bay. Though the chances of Samp actually making the Packers' opening day roster in September are slim, he couldn't be more thrilled.

"This is perfect," Samp said about the situation. "Coming from Green Bay and the area ... it makes it a lot easier."

Samp, 24, caught the eyes of Packers scouts over the past couple of seasons while starring for Winona State, near La Crosse, Wis., in Winona, Minn. He led the NCAA Division II in receiving yards (1,587) on 78 catches and TDs (22) last year, and earned first-team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association.

During his freshman and sophomore seasons at Winona State, Samp began feeling that he might have a chance to get a tryout with an NFL team.

"A lot of scouts were coming for some other players and they were saying they were watching me over the other guys," said Samp, who graduated from Green Bay Preble High School in 1999. "I kind of had a feeling I had a decent shot if I kept working hard."

The Packers gave Samp a tryout before the draft, and put him on a list of priority free agents if he went undrafted. On the night that the draft ended, Samp agreed to terms of a two-year contract with the Packers over 10 other teams who were pursuing him.

"When he came in here and we worked him out at the local workout, it was an instant fit," said John Dorsey, the Packers director of college scouting. "He was a much better athlete than I even envisioned he would be."

Now, Samp is not only trying to impress Packers coaches but come back down to earth everytime he puts on a Packers helmet and jersey for practice.

"As a kid growing up, I always had the dream. I never really came out in the public or told too many people about it because they just would have laughed," a humble Samp said. "I kind of kept it to myself.

"It's a good feeling to prove the odds wrong."

At 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, Samp is a big wideout by NFL standards with very good quickness and speed. Perhaps his biggest challenge in catching the attention of coaches will be his ability to handle bumps from defenders at the line of scrimmage and creating separation between himself and defenders to get open.

"I'm not used to that because I've never faced it," Samp said of the bump coverage. "The guys that did try to do it, I could get around really easy. It's a big step from the competition I was up against."

Samp got a rude awakening into the NFL on his third practice with the Packers. As Samp caught a pass over the middle of the field near the end zone, safety Julius Curry grabbed his facemask in midair and yanked his helmet all the way around his head. Samp held onto the ball and ran into the end zone before teammates helped him remove the helmet from his head.

"It's a good welcome to the NFL," Samp said. "Probably something like that will happen to me every day."

Samp headed back to Winona State after the three-day, post-draft mini-camp. He'll return in early June for the another mini-camp before training camp begins in late July. Veteran wideout Donald Driver gave Samp some advice before he left Green Bay to head back to school.

"I told him, 'Look, you don't have much time left. You're about to graduate. This is your job now, so get into your book,'" Driver said. "He's going to do it. I think he'll be a good receiver here if he makes the team. I'm just going to keep working with him, and hopefully, he's going to be one of the guys we keep."

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