Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 69 Days with Henry Melton

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The start of the 2023 season is inching closer and closer daily, and with only 69 days remaining until the team's home opener, today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff will focus on the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 69, defensive tackle Henry Melton.

Henry Melton's path to the Chicago Bears

A native of DeSoto, Texas, Henry Melton grew up in San Diego and Japan before eventually attending Dallas-area Grapevine High School. As a Mustang, Melton played a number of sports including baseball and track and field before focusing solely on his play on the gridiron. On the field, the future defensive tackle was actually a running back, and a dominant one at that.

Melton, a four-year letterman, gained over 800 total yards each of his final three seasons in high school en route to being nominated to two All-District selections and a second-team All-USA nod as a senior. Following an impressive high school career, Melton was heavily recruited by the nearby University of Texas, where the running back committed ahead of the 2005 season.

As a freshman, Melton appeared in all 13 of the Longhorn's games, including their 41 - 38 Rose Bowl victory against USC. A member of a backfield that featured Vince Young and Jamaal Charles, Melton finished the season with over 400 yards and 10 touchdowns, including three multiple-touchdown games.

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Despite a solid coming-out season, Melton struggled as a sophomore, and after tallying only 193 yards on the season, the coaching staff elected to transition Melton away from the offense and to the defensive line, where he started out as an edge rusher and special teams contributor. By 2007, his first full season on defense, Melton became a rotational defensive line piece and added 40 tackles, 11 of which were for a loss, four sacks, and two fumble recoveries over his final two seasons.

Following Melton's final year at Texas, the now defensive lineman entered the 2009 NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Chicago Bears during the fourth round via the 105th overall pick. Melton, still a raw and high-potential athlete, failed to make the team's roster in his first season. After transitioning to the defensive tackle position at 6' 3" and 290 lbs, the former Longhorn officially joined the team in 2010, where he would be joining the likes of Tommie Harris, Alex Brown, and Adewale Ogunleye on a fairly talented defensive line.