Football: Conte speaks

A sampling of what Chris Conte said during his conference call tonight with the local media. Conte was taken by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the NFL draft:

On what his expectations were going into the draft:

“Honestly, I was very hopeful that I would go today. I had a pretty good feeling that I had a pretty good chance of going today, just talking with teams. A lot of teams had a high grade on me. Coming to the end of that third round, just looking at the teams, I thought I might have to wait another day. Sitting around waiting is not a fun feeling. There were about six picks left and I was looking at the teams and none of them I had talked to too much. The only team that possibly could take me was Chicago. A couple seconds later, Chicago called. That was probably the most exciting moment I’ve ever had. It was the culmination of a whole bunch of different feelings. It was the most excited I’ve ever been.”


On what Bears coach Lovie Smith said on the phone: 

“When he called me, I was so excited. He didn’t really let me say anything. He was just telling me how excited they were to have me and that they’ve had their eye on me for a long time and believed in me and that I could come in and get in the mix and be a part of this great hard-nosed franchise.


On how much moving to safety improved his draft stock:

“100 percent. I think I would have not been drafted if I hadn’t moved to safety.”


On why safety is better suited for him:

“It just fits me and my style of football better. I can be a lot more aggressive. I can use my skills covering slot receivers and tight ends and just diversify the amount of things I can do and become more of an all-around football player instead of just being on an island the whole time.”


On how much playing corner and safety helped his draft stock:

“Having that ability to play corner, not a lot of people have that. Being a Pac-10 corner showed that I can cover and have the athleticism to do that. … Bringing that to the safety position helps a lot.”


On when it hit him he was a draft prospect:

“I learned how much of a prospect I was from Coach Pendergast. He believed in me a lot and really told me how good of a player I could be. He’s seen guys go into the NFL and develop and he believed in me. That really built my confidence and it just kind of developed from there. Every week, I was more and more confident. By the end of the season, I pretty much felt like I was getting drafted. From there on out, it seemed like my stock grew higher and higher. It was a great experience, the best experience I’ve ever had.”


On whether he feels choosing Cal was right for him:

“I think ultimately I made the right decision. It made me who I am. Things worked out pretty good. I don’t think I could ask for a better situation. I wouldn’t want to change anything, The people and the experiences I had at Cal shape me and really made me into a better person.”


On the reaction from teammate Sean Cattouse, who is from Chicago:

“Sean was the first person to call me and welcome me to his home city. That was pretty cool. I was pretty excited to talk to him right after I got off the phone with Lovie Smith. That definitely made the experience even better. That was the first phone call that I got.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Uh Huh!

    I remember reading another story back in Sept about Pendergast and Conte. The new coach apparently saw Conte in the weight room, just looking at his dimensions and such and asked, “Who’s THAT?! That’s my safety.”

    I found that to be pretty interesting. Here Conte had been a sometimes used corner, and was something of an “also ran” at that position. New coach comes in and sees something the prior position staff hadn’t, and BAM, dudes an NFL safety.

    That’s great for Conte, and great for Cal. If Cal can only keep Pendergast for a LOOOONG time. Of course, the fear is that the quality of players that Lupoi is bringing in, and Pendergast’s ability to use that talent on the field will mean the defense becomes a monster, and both will ultimately be gone.

    And then the challenge will be for Tedford to bring in two more great coaches.


  • Boaltblue

    I remember when Chris was deciding between Cal and UCLA as the place to attend college. He made the right choice. He certainly has grown and matured a lot since that time. He performed well for Cal in his many games as a starter and backup. He made his mark on Cal Football and will be missed.

    Congratulations and Bearest wishes to Chris. The Cal football family will be rooting for him on Sundays.