Chris Ivory's college career was a bust.
The Saints gave him a chance anyway, and it is beginning to look like New Orleans may have plucked another exciting running back from the ranks of the undrafted.
Ivory turned a swing pass into a tackle-breaking, zigzagging, 76-yard score, and finished as both the game-high rusher and receiver in New Orleans' 36-21 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers on Friday night.
"I know I've got to come out and work hard, open some eyes and just prove that I want to be here," Ivory said. "I'm trying to go hard every play so I can keep (coaches') minds open and make this team."
The rookie rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries, with a long run of 16 yards. He turned his only catch into the longest reception in the game by bowling over defenders, making others miss and carrying one on his back across the goal line.
Essentially, he played like Pierre Thomas , who joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie in 2007.
Ivory, who is a broad-shouldered 6 feet and 222 pounds, never rushed for more than 313 yards at Washington State, where he spent three years before being dismissed for violations such as being late to meetings and missing a practice. He finished his college career last year with an injury-plagued season at Division II Tiffin and wound up with a grand total of 757 yards rushing in four college seasons.
With his performance against San Diego coming after solid outings in the Saints' first two preseason games - he had a TD run at New England and rushed for 66 yards against Houston - he appears likely to make the regular season roster, particularly after season-ending injuries to running backs Lynell Hamilton and P.J. Hill.
"He made a heck of a play on the catch for the touchdown," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "He just consistently has been able to get positive yards, but there's some things we've got to get corrected. That's somewhat to be expected. Certainly coming where he's coming from is a big step up."
Sure it was only preseason, but to date Ivory has looked much better than recently signed journeyman Ladell Betts. Ivory has more upside as a late round flyer than Betts, but ultimately Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas should see the majority of snaps when the games count.