During his introductory press conference Friday at Halas Hall, Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith expressed excitement about joining a team with such a storied history.
"I'm extremely happy to be a part of this Bears franchise's rich history," said Smith, an inside linebacker from Georgia. "I'm very excited and I can't wait to get to work with my new teammates. It should be a great one. Looking for a heck of a ride."
Smith is eager to play for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who helped inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman develop into Pro Bowlers during their time together with the 49ers. Smith has been compared especially to Willis because of his size, speed and instincts.
"I know they are known for defense here in Chicago and coach Vic is an awesome defensive coordinator," Smith said. "I'm just excited to play in that system. Regardless of how he wants to use me, I'm just excited and willing to do anything."
Smith is looking forward to reuniting with former Georgia teammate Leonard Floyd, who will enter his third season with the Bears after being selected with the ninth pick in the 2016 draft.
Take a look at first-round draft pick Roquan Smith's first day at Halas Hall after the Bears selected the linebacker on Thursday.
"I just spoke with him," Smith said. "He's excited to have me up. We're going to do something special here. He's excited to start getting to work again with me."
Most draft analysts expect Smith to start immediately as a rookie. But that's not something he's dwelling on, at least before he has even stepped onto the practice field for the first time.
"There's no pressure to that," Smith said. "I know my skill set, but I just want to come here and be the best possible teammate I can be whether it's special teams, defense or however the coaches feel that I can best serve the team. I'm just here for that."
Smith majored in economics at Georgia because he wanted to be challenged.
"I could have easily done something else, but I felt like I needed a challenge," he said. "I took a few classes like micro/macro and felt like it's not too bad. I felt like it would challenge me, but I thought it would definitely be worth it at the end of the day in case football did not work out. I felt like it would best prepare me. That Terry School of Business at Georgia is like no other."
Smith applies the same approach to football as he did in the classroom.
"Every day is a challenge," he said. "You have to prove yourself over and over in this business that we're in each and every day. But I feel like just what my family instilled in me from a young individual, if you do something do it the right way and take advantage of everything. Don't let any opportunity get out of your hand and just make the most of it because many people would die to be in my situation, so why not take advantage?
Bulldogs back on top
Smith was part of a resurgence at Georgia last season as the Bulldogs reached the CFP championship game and finished the season with a 13-2 record.
"Coach [Kirby] Smart has instilled a lot of great things in us," Smith said. "We value practice on another level. We feel you compete your best at practice and you do things the right way on and off the field. We feel the way he prepares us, the defense, the offense and everyone, the support staff they can get you to the top."
Asked if there was a signature moment he experienced last season, Smith mentioned Georgia winning its first SEC title since 2005.
"I'm proud of a lot of them," he said. "I really just enjoyed the entire season with my guys. But winning the SEC championship—which Georgia hadn't done in many years—and just bringing that back to Athens, the town desperately needed that. That was pretty awesome and I'm excited to be a part of that team."