The start of the new week means that we are one day closer to the start of the Chicago Bears' 2023 season, and to celebrate the home opener inching closer and closer, we continue Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff by looking at the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 55, linebacker Lance Briggs.
Lance Briggs path from California to the Chicago Bears
Lance Briggs would eventually become known for serving as a punishing linebacker who played in Chicago for over a decade, but the future Pro Bowler had a unique start to his football career. A native of Los Angeles, California, Briggs, and his family moved around the state throughout his childhood before finally landing in the Sacramento area, where Briggs enrolled at Florin High School.
Unfortunately, Briggs was unable to join the team as a freshman due to his poor grades and eventually transferred to Elk Grove High School before his sophomore year. As a sophomore, Briggs was a running back and linebacker for his junior varsity squad. As a junior, Briggs' football career began to take shape. In his final two seasons, Briggs' team won the Section Championship, with himself being named the Sacramento Area Player of the Year. In the championship game as a senior, Briggs rushed for six touchdowns and over 300 yards.
Following the end of his high school career, Briggs fielded several scholarship offers all across the country before eventually deciding to continue at the University of Arizona, continuing the school's recent image of defensive success otherwise named the "desert storm". In his first season as a Wildcat under head coach Dick Tomey, Briggs split time on offensive and defense, logging nearly 200 total yards, and two touchdowns. Nonetheless, Briggs' play as a linebacker was perhaps more impressive, and he would focus on being a defensive specialist from his sophomore season on.
Before Briggs' junior season, the school made a head coaching change, replacing Tomey with the newly hired John Mackovic. Under Mackovic, the Wildcats struggled greatly, and Briggs himself has stated his desire to leave the football team during this time, but the linebacker persisted and earned two All-Conference nods in his final two seasons after leading the team in tackles and sacks.
Following the completion of Briggs' stellar collegiate career, the linebacker entered the 2003 draft, where he was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 68th overall pick during the third round. Briggs became the highest-drafted Wildcat that year.