Brandon Venson – a native of Glendale Heights, IL – first started playing football in grade school because he wanted to be a member of the Chicago Bears. Standing on the field at Halas Hall after practice and wearing a Bears uniform seemed "almost surreal" to the 6-3, 245-pound rookie tight end.
Venson was a two-time all conference pick at Glenbard West High School. He played one season at the College of DuPage in 2008 where he was an offensive captain and team MVP. Venson played for Illinois State from 2009-2011 and was part of the protection team that allowed only six sacks in the 2011 season, a ranking of 3rd in the country. Venson also helped teammate Ashton Leggett become the first running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Venson was one of seven rookies signed by the Bears following the rookie minicamp. He tells Bear Report what it's like to make the transition into the NFL.
TE Brandon Venson
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"If you could see me right now you'd know from the size of my smile that I am very excited to be here. It's great. I grew up in the Chicago area. Everybody knows if you are from here, you root for the Bears. I always had hopes of someday playing professional football, but to be here on this team? That's amazing.
"What do I feel I can bring to the team? I'm a good blocker and I move quickly for my size. My work ethic is strong and I'm a quick learner. I love contact and am very competitive. My job right now is to show the team what I can do out there.
"At this stage of my pro career, it's all about absorbing all I can from this experience. I work hard from early in the morning until late at night every day. It's necessary in to learn everything as quickly as I can.
"In the NFL there are constant demands on your time. You either have meetings, are working out or are on the field. As a new player you need to find the time to learn the playbook. That is very time consuming and intense.
"The current tight ends have been extremely helpful. I can't say enough about Matt Spaeth, Kyle Adams and Kellen Davis. They have been here a while and they understand the Chicago system. Just watching them play is an education for me. If I have a question they answer me and help me work things out on the field.
"What I think I bring to the team is strength, speed and good instincts for the ball. What I need to improve is my overall technique. At this level, everything you do counts. There are fast breaks, and you have to know what you're doing beforehand or you'll just get lost. I'm learning and I think I'm doing good so far.
"Right now I am working on details such as taking apart my moves and reconstructing them so they are efficient and effective. I want to be sharp on everything and let my coaches know I'm in tune. It's important to react and play, rather than think about what you are going to do. Thinking about a particular move can slow you down too much. "Draft weekend wasn't very enjoyable but it all turned out fine in the end once the Bears called. All I had hoped and prayed for was to be given an opportunity.
"I have to admit, though, that I was shocked when they took me aside after that first camp and said they wanted to sign me. But perhaps that is how things were meant to turn out. I'm a religious person and I've always believed that God had a plan in mind for me. I'm here and I'm playing for my hometown team. That's more than I ever hoped for."
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.