BR Rookie Diary: Matt Blanchard

Quarterback Matt Blanchard was one of seven undrafted rookies signed by the Bears following rookie minicamp. Bear Report caught up with the signal caller from Wisconsin-Whitewater.

It could be difficult for Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Matt Blanchard to top the gift he gave his mom for Mother's Day this year: news that he'd been signed by the Bears.

"She screamed then jumped up and down," Blanchard said. "It was a pretty good moment."

Blanchard hopes to have more good news for his family as he progresses through minicamp, OTAs and training camp this summer.

The former Wisconsin-Whitewater signal caller grew up in Lake Zurich and has been impressive so far this offseason. Blanchard is part of a trio of quarterbacks – along with Josh McCown and Nathan Enderle – vying for Chicago's third quarterback position.

Blanchard tells Bear Report how he got to the NFL and what he hopes lies ahead.

"I've been asked so often since I got here how anybody ever finds a player from a Division III school. I guess it's a matter of luck and of timing. Our college team, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks won the Division III Championship this year, after winning its 44th straight game. I think that could make some scouts take notice.

"But still, actually being here in the NFL is a dream come true. It's something I've always aimed for and believed I'd reach but of course you never know for sure until it happens.

"I went to rookie minicamp after receiving a call from the Bears right after draft weekend. It was the type of an opportunity you can't let slip through your fingers. I played as hard as I could during that camp and was fortunate enough to be one of the seven rookies signed after it concluded.

"My hometown is Lake Zurich, not that far from Halas Hall, really. In fact, our high school team was called the Bears. I attended Northern Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin Whitewater at the end of my sophomore year. I was able to lead the Whitewater Warhawks to 25 wins in my two seasons with 44 touchdowns during that time. I hoped that would be enough to get noticed by some NFL team.

"I had a few calls from other pro teams during the draft process as far as attending their rookie camps but the team I wanted to play for most was the team I'd cheered for all of my life. There was no way I would pass up the chance to be a Chicago Bear if that chance would be offered to me. I was so happy that they called. I'm sure I smiled all the way to Lake Forest that first day.

"The pressure on rookies at this level is considerable but it's not unexpected. I welcome the challenge and plan to succeed. I understand that I am coming out of a small college and the competition wasn't anywhere as difficult as what I will face in the NFL. But I still believe that football is football. If you understand how to win, if you are willing to put in the time on the field and in the film room, you can play against anybody.

"The vets have been very supportive. Anytime you get the chance to be on field with players like Jay Cutler, Jason Campbell, Josh McCown and Nathan Enderle, it's a privilege. There's so much I can learn from each of them.

"I've been asked since I arrived here what it's like to play alongside Cutler. It's a strange situation because I was getting serious about playing football right about the time that Cutler first came into the league. He was a pro I noticed right away. His talent and competitive nature stood out and I think I learned about the position by watching him play.

"I believe my role here at this point is to act like a sponge and soak up every single bit of information any of these quarterbacks can teach me. They know a lot more than I do and the best thing I can do right now is watch and listen.

"I feel I have the potential to eventually become a leader at this level. In school my strength on the field came from understanding how to unite and motivate players. We won a championship at Whitewater against some tough competition. My goal would be to translate those skills to this level."

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.

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