The Bears' four-part documentary series "Meet the Rookies" will culminate with a 30-minute special hosted by radio play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak on WFLD FOX 32 at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
The series, which is brought to you by PNC, highlights inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Joel Iyiegbuniwe, receiver Anthony Miller and offensive lineman James Daniels. The segments feature behind-the-scenes footage and tell the story of each player's journey to the NFL.
Smith learned the values that helped him earn his way to the NFL while growing up in Montezuma, Ga, a tiny town with a population of 3,500,
"The neighborhood and the community I grew up in, you fight for everything and everything you get you pretty much have to earn it," Smith said. "I feel like what my family instilled in me was not to take anything lightly and just to take advantage of everything because you never know."
Smith also discusses how he first started playing football at the age of six and fell in love with the game immediately. In high school, his determination and drive were evident to head coach Larry Harold.
"He's worked relentlessly," Harold said. "People always wonder what makes successful people successful. I've had a front row seat to watch. He's different. He's going to work in the classroom and at the practice field. He's the hardest worker. There's nothing that he won't do to be successful."
Iyiegbuniwe was a two-year starter at Western Kentucky. Last season he was named first-team All-Conference USA after leading the Hilltoppers with 117 tackles and 11.5 tackles-for-loss while also recording two sacks and three forced fumbles.
"He does flip the switch," said Western Kentucky coach Mike Sanford Jr. "He's a guy that is a gentleman off the field and a trained killer on the field, and that's a good thing.
"Off the field, he's a guy that you'd want your kids around. I have three children and I want them to watch ‘Iggy' and follow ‘Iggy' in the way he lives his life, in the way he talks to authority, the way he treats his family, loves his family, loves his teammates. But then you step on the field and you get him between the white lines and he is a maniacal football player."
Miller blossomed as a junior at Memphis in 2016, setting school records with 95 receptions, 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns. His encore was even better in 2017 when he eclipsed all three of those marks with 96 catches, 1,462 yards and 18 TDs.
"He's the hardest working best player I've ever been around, and when you have that combination, that's a formula for success," said Memphis coach Mike Norvell.
Before the draft, Miller wrote a letter to NFL general managers in which he declared himself "the best wide receiver in this draft class."
In "Meet the Rookies," Miller explains why he feels that way, saying: "I say I'm the best because I've just got the complete package. Some guys are fast, some guys are good this and that, but you can't name one thing that I can't do. I can catch the ball, I've got a little speed. I can block a guy through the end zone, out of bounds. I'm just all of the above, so I bring a lot of excitement to the game and I believe that it's going to continue when I get to Chicago."
The Bears targeted Daniels in the draft and were pleasantly surprised that the Ohio native was still on the board at No. 39.
"We had him as a first-round player," said Bears director of player personnel Josh Lucas. "You never know. Every team's going to have different flavors with interior linemen. It's just one of those things that you hope he's there. But based on our grades, based on where we saw the top 32 players in the draft, we definitely weren't anticipating him being there."
Daniels, who won't turn 21 until September, declared for the draft after his true junior season. After playing center the past two seasons at Iowa, he will begin his Bears career at guard.
"We knew right away that he was a player who could add value to the Chicago Bears," Lucas said. "If he does everything on his end as far as his preparation—taking care of his body, learning to be a pro—we expect him to be a high-level starter in the NFL at guard or center."