Rookie Diary: CB Talib Wise

As a Chicago native and longtime Bears fan, cornerback Talib Wise's adjustment to the pros might be somewhat easier than that of his fellow rookies. But to earn his roster spot, Wise must transition immediately from offense to defense, a task that can prove daunting even to a seasoned veteran.

Wise is a player who enjoys challenges and who can't wait to make his mark at the next level. A Midwesterner by birth, Chicago is Talib's turf. He seems thrilled to have the opportunity to be close to his childhood home, which is located near the intersection of 35th and Cottage Grove Avenue, and to have the chance to reconnect with family and friends. And while most of the rookies have only seen Soldier Field during a quick tour of the facility, Wise already knows the lay of the land, having played the in old stadium during his years in Pop Warner ball.

But making the Bears will take considerable time and effort and a good measure of luck. A product of Joliet Junior College and the University of Nevada-Reno, Wise has the disadvantage of coming from small college program. However, if desire makes the difference, Wise already has what it takes to earn a spot on the roster.

Wise gives his view of life as a rookie:

I love being here. This is a real thrill, beyond anything I had ever imagined. And my family, talk about excited. They are beside themselves. Since I first started playing football in grade school I always told everybody that I wanted to be with the Bears. At 5-five-10 and 200 lbs, I'm not that large for the pros so I suspect some people thought that I'd never make it, but here I am. This is almost too good to be true.

Although my college athletic programs weren't as well known as many other schools, I think that they gave me a strong foundation. I played the whole time I was at each school so I have lots of game time experience. I've also played in postseason games. When I played at Joliet JC, we won the national championship in 2002.

At the University of Nevada-Reno I was a running back mostly but I also worked as a kickoff return man and a receiver. My coaches liked the fact that I was athletic and fast and told me that my agility seemed to be above average. I think that is what got me noticed by the pros.

I never thought that I would be taken in the draft but I did have hopes that the scouts and coaches from Chicago would be happy with what they saw out of me during tryouts. They had a day set aside for those from the Chicago area. We came up here to Halas Hall and went through our routines. I developed a good relationship with Lovie Smith during that brief time and I had the feeling that I might hear from the Bears once draft was over.

Not being drafted isn't the worst thing in the world. I know that most college players hope to hear their names called, but everybody doesn't get that opportunity. The way I look at it, I'm here now and the Bears are going to be glad that they signed me.

My new position at cornerback feels pretty comfortable already. Just as being a RB or receiver, it takes speed and an eye for the ball, both of which I have. The one thing my coaches have mentioned is that I'm going to have to change the size and the shape of my body as much as possible. I was a little bulkier when I was on offense and now I need to think it out a little. Speed is what defense at my position is all about and I'll do whatever it takes to get to the body type they need.

There is a completely different mindset between offense and defense. That's a big adjustment for me. On offense you wait then you go. On defense it seems as if things are coming right at you all of the time. You can't lose concentration for a second.

The Bear veteran who has been a tremendous help to me already is Jerry Azumah, who made a similar transition from one side of the ball to the other several years ago. Coach Ron Rivera has been encouraging Jerry to help me out a little, and he's been more than cooperative on that.

I've also been getting a lot of one-on-one time with Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher and from the position coaches, which is something I really appreciate. I'll stay out there working just as long as they want me to. I enjoy spending the extra time on the field. Anything that gives me a chance is good.

I did well in college and I'm looking forward to making my name in the pros as well. As a receiver, I had 10 catches for 104 yards against Hawaii. I won't be doing that any more, but maybe I can get some good interceptions and run one back for a score.

What have I learned so far about life in the pros? One basic thing: that every day will not be a good day. In high school or college, if you were a good player chances were that every practice would turn out well. At this level, that's not the case. What is necessary is to learn from the mistakes, then shake them off immediately and just go on.

I call that my ‘offensive mentality' because that's what I did as a running back and receiver. The pace was too quick to worry about what went wrong. I went from one play to the next, blocking out from my mind anything bad. Now I'm doing the same thing while running backwards just a cornerback is supposed to do.

So far being with the Bears has been all that I've hoped for. Just making it here is part of fulfilling a childhood dream. I'm working just as hard as I can to complete the other half, which would be to make the team and I'll do whatever it takes to stay.

Bear Report Top Stories