On his first tour of duty with the Chiefs in 2015 cornerback De’Vante Bausby didn’t lack on-field confidence. But the daily grind of off-field preparation was another story.
“My whole thing was I wasn’t as mentally prepared for the classroom and that part of the game,” Bausby said. “That part has changed.”
A more well-rounded Bausby looks to land a spot on the Chiefs roster in his second stint.
He participated in Chiefs off-season training activities two years ago, hoping to complete a local-product-makes-good story.
Bausby was a standout defensive back and wide receiver for Hogan Prep from 2008-2010, and was a contributor at Pittsburg State as a freshman on the 2011 Division II national championship team.
He built an All-MIAA career as a three-year starter for the Gorillas and signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent after attending a workout with local college players. It also didn’t hurt that Bausby had logged a 4.22 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in 2015.
The odds were stacked against him, but Bausby brought the proper approach.
“I was definitely a long shot, being an eighth-round draft pick,” Bausby joked. “But the mentality I had, I felt I had a chance to make it, at least to the preseason, if I didn’t get hurt.”
Bausby, who had opened eyes with his athleticism and 6-2 frame, suffered a broken collarbone on the final day of OTAs and the Chiefs released him.
After a six-month recovery period, Bausby got a call from the Chicago Bears and in December 2015, was signed to their practice squad.
The off-time proved valuable for Bausby, who played catch-up on the mental side of the game. He hunkered down and studied the Chiefs, who in 2015 powered to an 11-5 record and won their first playoff game in more than two decades. The team got big contributions from then-rookie cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Eric Berry, coming off his bout with Hodgkin lymphoma. Both had All-Pro seasons.
“When I was hurt, I spent that time watching the Chiefs,” Bausby said. “Marcus, Eric, all those guys. I saw what they did and how they were doing it, their technique, how they moved and and how they played routes.”
The self-education paid off. Last October, Bausby was promoted to the active roster and wound up playing in four games for the Bears. He logged a total of 11 tackles including seven in a game at Green Bay.
Bausby was released in May, but now he had NFL game experience and the Chiefs wasted no time reaching out.
“I’m thankful for this second chance here,” Bausby said. “I learned a lot in Chicago.”
Wearing a Chiefs uniform — No. 31 in the defensive white for training camp — is meaningful to the player who grew up attending games at Arrowhead Stadium.
Now, he looks to watch games from the defensive backfield. The Chiefs list 11 cornerbacks on their training-camp roster, and the competition is tough.
But Bausby has at least one advantage, at least over other newcomers, said cornerback Steven Nelson.
“He’s been here before so he knows our system,” Nelson said. “I think he’s fitting in well for what we have going on.”
To Bausby, the objective is simple.
“My goal is 53,” he said, referring to the team’s final roster number. “Anything less and I didn’t do good enough.”