The life-changing moment Cole Kmet experienced last Friday night still doesn't seem real to the Notre Dame tight end.
An avid Bears fan while growing up in Lake Barrington, Kmet celebrated with his family in their Arlington Heights home when he learned he was being drafted by his favorite NFL team.
The next day, friends and neighbors adhering to social-distancing guidelines formed an impromptu parade of cars that lasted for 45 minutes. They drove slowly past the Kmet home, honking their horns to congratulate him.
"It's still amazing to me," Kmet said Thursday night on the Bears All-Access radio show on WSCR 670 AM. "It's been almost a week now since the draft and I'm still just in shock every day that I get to stay home and I get to be around here and I get to play for the Chicago Bears.
"It's just really special for me and I know for my family and the community. We're just all real excited and can't wait for the season to get started."
Kmet, who starred at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, was chosen by the Bears with the 43rd pick in the second round of the draft. The 6-6, 262-pounder was a three-year contributor at Notre Dame who blossomed as a junior last year, establishing career highs in all receiving categories with 43 receptions for 515 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bears plan on employing Kmet as their "Y" tight end, an integral position in their offense. The 21-year-old is eager to fill that role and to begin learning the system.
"I think the offense is predicated on a lot of play-action and a lot of use of the tight end moving around and being able to go inline and in the slot, be split out wide as a receiver," Kmet said. "So there are a lot of things. When you watch coach Nagy, where he was at with Kansas City and how he used those tight ends there, there's a lot to be had for tight ends in this offense, so it's really exciting for me."
With NFL team facilities closed due to the coronavirus, the Bears are conducting their offseason program solely on a virtual basis. A rookie minicamp will be held next Friday through Sunday. After players are given the week of May 11 off, the rookies will join their veteran teammates for the final six weeks of the program, beginning May 18.
The inability to meet with teammates and coaches and work out at Halas Hall presents unique challenges. But the kid who grew up with a Brian Urlacher Fathead on his basement wall is confident that he'll be able to learn the Bears offense.
"They've sent me everything I need in terms of playbook-wise on an iPad and all that," Kmet said. "And I've been able to call the coaches and stuff and get in touch with them. In the next couple weeks when our virtual minicamp starts, we'll really be able to sit down and look over the playbook and kind of get in depth with it.
"I'm not really too concerned in terms of learning it. I have a good knack for picking up stuff and I have a pretty good sense of looking at the playbook and being able to digest it and all. I know it may be a little weird virtually, but I'm pretty confident I'm going to figure it out."