Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bennett goes No. 70 to Chicago

Vanderbilt fans now have even more reason to root for the Bears. Junior wide receiver Earl Bennett just joined fellow Commodore Chris Williams in Chicago as he was selected in the third round (70th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Bennett became the first Commodore receiver selected in the NFL draft since 1988 when Carl Parker was picked by Cincinnati in the 12th round.

"Earl's production on the field was amazing," said coach Bobby Johnson in a statement. "Every team we faced focused on slowing Earl and he still produced at a remarkable level. From the minute he stepped on the field as a true freshman, Earl impacted our team.

"Earl is a class act off the field, a guy that I'm really proud to have coached. He's more talkative these days, but for a long time, I thought the only words he knew was 'yes sir.' He's just a very solid citizen, a young man that brings great credit to the university, our team and his hometown."

The Bears said they had Bennett rated higher than many of the wide receivers drafted in the second round and think the Birmingham native has a chance to be a starter in the NFL.

“We see him as having starter talent,” said Greg Gabriel, the Bears’ director of college scouting. “Whether he becomes a starter as a rookie, that remains to be seen. But we see him as a guy who has starter talent. We graded him as such.”

Bennett has been compared to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

“He’s a great route runner,” Gabriel said. “He’s got excellent hands and he’s very good after the catch. On top of that, his character is impeccable.”

Read the full Bears press release here, as well as Vanderbilt's press release here.

Congratulations, Earl. The Chicago Bears now have thousands of new fans.

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