Even though tight end Kyle Adams led Purdue as a senior with 36 catches, while also serving as team captain, he wasn't sure he would ever make it to the NFL. After being passed over for the Scouting Combine, Adams had only his Pro Day to impress NFL scouts. He ran a 4.79 in the 40-yard dash and had a 33.5-inch vertical jump. Although his results attracted attention, Adams was passed over in the 2011 Draft.
Adams tells Bear Report how he kept his focus and what it was like to finally see his picture in an NFL team's media guide.
"I started playing football real early, probably around four or five. It was a while ago but I'm pretty sure it was age four. I participated in a bunch of other sports as well, baseball, basketball, track, all the things that kids do in school. I enjoyed all of them but it was clear that football would become my passion.
"I'm from Austin, Texas and as most of you know, football is a real big deal in Texas. In fact, I attended the same high school, Westlake, that Drew Brees did.
"I played through grade school and high school, rotating in and out of a number of positions. As I grew to my full height of 6-4 and weight (255), tight end seemed to suit me best. I enjoyed the blocking aspects of that position and I loved to catch the ball.
TE Kyle Adams
"I was fortunate enough to be accepted at Purdue, a great school both in academics and in sports. I played in 46 games there from 2006-2010. Schoolwork was always very important to me because I realized that once my time in football is done I'm going to have to have some skills to fall back on.
"My family always stressed the importance of learning as much as possible in college. You never know how long you'll be able to play football and it's so important to have something solid to fall back on. I was honored to make the Academic Big Ten three times. That didn't help me one bit during the NFL Draft, but hopefully it will pay off later in life.
"Draft weekend was not a whole lot of fun. I had a pretty good idea that I wouldn't get picked because I'd been passed over for the Combine. It was a frustrating situation but at times like that when I realize that I have no control over things, I feel comfortable putting my trust in God. My faith was strong and I figured somewhere He had a plan for me. If I could just relax and let things unfold according to that plan, I'd be OK.
"Keeping focus during the lockout was very difficult. I knew I had to keep my skills as sharp as possible. It was such an indefinite situation. None of us had any idea when camp would start, or if it would begin this year at all. I participated in a personal training program and also did a lot of workouts on my own.
"Once the lockout ended, it was time to get serious as far as finding a team that would be a good fit and that was interested in me. The Bears were a natural. Being at Purdue I was able to follow the team during the four years I lived in Indiana. I loved the tradition and the overall quality of the organization.
"I got to camp and worked as hard as I possibly could. I knew that I had to demonstrate that I would be a positive for the team. It was stressful and difficult, but again, my faith saw me through. I tried to remain calm as the cuts began. I wanted to make the final roster so badly but it was out of my hands. I counted on my faith to get me through no matter what happened. When I got the call that I'd made the cut, I felt complete joy. It was a dream come true.
"Now, here I am. And yes, my picture is in the Bears Media Guide. How cool is that? It's kind of hard to believe. I'm going to keep that publication for a long time. But this is a time to focus and work harder, not sit back and enjoy the fact that I've made it this far. I think that my contribution this year will be primarily on special teams. I'm pretty quick and have a good sense of where the ball is going to be, so that is a positive.
"I still have a lot to learn but I've always enjoyed studying so that shouldn't be a problem.
"It's exciting and a lot of fun to be on the field during a pro game. The crowd noise is incredible, especially when we play a big game at home. So far at least I haven't found the increased tempo of the pro game to be a problem. I do notice that every play is a lot more intense than in college and that there is a higher level of skill in every person who is on the field. It's something that takes getting used to.
"Overall, this is a great experience, even better than I'd hoped it would be. I feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. The plan I had hoped for is unfolding and I couldn't be more grateful for that."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.