Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Sports News

ISU's Venson signs with Chicago Bears

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[May 16, 2012]  LAKE FOREST -- After impressing coaches and scouts at the team's rookie minicamp over the weekend, former Illinois State tight end Brandon Venson was one of seven players who agreed to a three-year contract with the Chicago Bears Sunday evening.

The Glendale Heights native was one of 33 tryout players who participated in the three-day minicamp, along with the team's six draft picks and non-drafted free agent signees.

Each was given several opportunities to impress Bears coaches, both on and off the field, but only seven were signed to contracts.

In addition to Venson, the group consisted of Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Blanchard, Texas Southern receiver Joseph Anderson, Concordia tackle Tyler Hendrickson, Central Florida guard Nick Pieschel, Boston College punter Ryan Quigley and Connecticut kicker David Teggart.

After beginning his career at Northern Illinois and transferring to the College of DuPage, Venson moved to Illinois State prior to the 2009 season and went on to start for three seasons at tight end for the Redbirds. He played in all but one game during his Redbird career and finished with 17 catches for 238 yards (14 yards per catch) with one touchdown grab. In his first season with ISU in 2009, Venson caught 10 passes for 148 yards and hauled in the lone touchdown pass of his career, a 38-yard tipped ball just before halftime at Missouri State.

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Also a vital member of the Redbird protection team, Venson helped ISU rush for 183.4 yards per game in 2011, up from 131 yards per game in 2010, and was part of the unit that allowed just six sacks on the season, which ranked the group No. 3 in the country in fewest sacks allowed.

Venson and teammate Cody White are the newest Redbirds to sign with NFL teams. They join former Redbirds Laurént Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tom Nelson (Philadelphia Eagles) and Chris Riley (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in the NFL. Former Redbird cornerback Otis Merrill also worked out for the Green Bay Packers over the weekend, but had not signed with the team as of Monday morning.

[Text from news release received from Michael Williams, Illinois State University]

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