At 6-4, 211, wide receiver Chris Summers has the size to be an impact player for the Chicago Bears. A graduate of Liberty University, Summers holds the school’s all-time record for touchdown receptions (26).
In 2011, Summers led the Big South in total receiving yards and touchdown receptions and ranked 18th nationally in receiving yards per game (112.7). He was the favorite target of Flames quarterback Mike Brown and helped take his team to successive conference championships.
Summers hopes to fill a similar role in Chicago. He talked with Bear Report about his transition into the NFL.
“It’s so exciting to be here. Draft weekend was OK because I knew there were some feelers from NFL teams coming in. It wasn’t as if I’d been completely forgotten. Even if I was not taken in the draft, I felt relatively confident that I would end up here in the NFL sooner rather than later.
“How did those teams find me? They caught up with some of my film and that intrigued the scouts. I had good overall stats in the Big South conference and that helped get me noticed as well. Also, Liberty was conference champion while I was there. That is the kind of thing that gets you on their radar.
“Probably, like every other player here on the field today, playing in the NFL has been a lifelong dream of mine. I’ve been playing football since I was 6. The only other sport that caught my attention was basketball. For a time there when I was in high school I thought I might have a chance to make it to the NBA. In fact, I played both football and basketball during my first year at Liberty with that in mind.
“I gave up basketball when I realized that trying to compete in two major sports was hurting my efforts to do well in each of them. In the final analysis, football seemed to offer the better opportunity, so that is what I chose.
“When I left the basketball team, my first job was to bulk up. My body wasn’t as sizable as it needed to be to play football well. I spent many hours in the weight room at school and changed my diet to put on muscle. I also worked on speed and agility. It’s good to be big in the NFL but you also need to get to the ball before everybody else does and have the acceleration to escape the defense.
“There are 28 players from Liberty who either are now or have been in the NFL. That may surprise some people because football probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear about Liberty but we have an excellent athletic program. I can’t say enough about the coaches. They did so much to help me make this transition. I feel comfortable and well prepared. For that I thank everybody who worked with me.
“I studied up on the Bears before I came here but of course I already knew quite a bit about the team. Walter Payton was here. That says it all for me. I’d like to learn more about Chicago. Hopefully that opportunity will come once this camp has concluded.
“What do I think I bring to the Bears? I feel that I have a very strong competitive instinct. I can find the ball quickly and I handle pressure well. I’m a good blocker. My speed is good and I’m a fast learner. I communicate well with quarterbacks and can pick up new schemes in a short time.
“What do I need to work on? Obviously the playbook is something that needs attention. Any rookie will tell you that. It isn’t difficult to understand but there is quite a bit of material there. Also, I need to work on all the small aspects of my technique. That’s a matter of deconstructing every move and making it better. Perfection is expected at this level. I have a very strong work ethic and am eager to learn so this is enjoyable for me.
“The vets have been extremely helpful. They are much more patient with the rookies than most of us expected them to be. What we need to do now is justify their faith in us.”
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.