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
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.
news release received from Michael Williams, Illinois State