LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Bears rookie running back Garrett Wolfe enjoyed a profitable day at Halas Hall Tuesday, working with his veteran teammates for the first time and signing a four-year contract.
The third-round pick from Northern Illinois is the NFL’s first 2007 draft choice to put his name on the dotted line.
Former Northern Illinois star Garrett Wolfe signs his first NFL contract Tuesday at Halas Hall.
“I’m not a numbers guy, so I wouldn’t have been too worried about it anyway,” Wolfe said. “But it’s a great opportunity for me with the Chicago Bears.
“The one thing that I’m excited about is that I’m here and I’m working out with the guys. I get to get a feel for what’s going on and that’s just going to put me that much more ahead. Going into training camp, I’ll be ahead of the learning curve.”
To Wolfe, who grew up in Chicago cheering for the Bears, signing his first NFL contract wasn’t nearly as monumental an experience as being drafted by his hometown team April 28.
“That contract is only what I make of it,” he said. “I have to make that contract work for me as opposed to getting caught up in the figures and not producing or not playing. If you don’t play and you don’t produce, the contract’s not important anyway.”
After signing his contract Tuesday, Wolfe insisted that he wasn’t going to make any extravagant purchases.
“I plan to save my money and watch it grow,” he said.
Wolfe begins his NFL career as a situational running back who will complement starter Cedric Benson and backup Adrian Peterson. The 5-7, 186-pounder could eventually be elevated to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, which would enable Peterson to continue to play all four phases on special teams.
Wolfe impressed Bears coaches with his speed, elusiveness and pass-catching ability during the team's rookie minicamp May 4-6 at Halas Hall.
He joined the Bears after being named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year in his final two seasons at Northern Illinois, leading the nation in rushing last year as a senior with 1,928 yards and 18 touchdowns on 309 carries.
A three-year letterwinner at Northern Illinois, Wolfe finished 11th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history with a school-record 5,164 rushing yards. He completed his collegiate career ranked fourth all-time in Division I-A annals with a rushing average of 156.5 yards per game, surpassed only by Ed Marinaro, O.J. Simpson and Herschel Walker.
Wolfe also ranks seventh in NCAA history in career points per game (10.4) and career all-purpose yards per game (181.3). His career average of 6.4 yards per rushing attempt set an NCAA Division I-A record (minimum 780 carries), while he also set NIU marks for career touchdown runs (52), total touchdowns (57), 100-yard rushing performances (22) and 200-yard rushing performances (10), while ranking second in all-purpose yards (5,983) and points scored (344).
Tuesday marked the first day that NFL rookies were permitted to return to their team’s facility since the rookie minicamps ended (providing that they had completed final exams or graduated), and Wolfe took full advantage of the opportunity.
“It was good to get around those guys and get a feel for the other running backs, and it was just good to be out here competing again,” Wolfe said. “Those guys are all very talented football players. The one thing that was good to see is that they’re excited to help us learn and help us get better and in turn help the football team get better.”
Call em as I see em!