(670 The Score) When coach Tom O’Brien went to recruit a promising young offensive line prospect named Ryan Poles to Boston College, he was initially struck by something.
O’Brien sensed a maturity in Poles, then a prized prospect and Boston College legacy who was ready to work. Poles joined the football program and developed as a redshirt freshman, then quickly proved himself as a starter on the offensive line. He went out and earned it.
Those traits stood out to O’Brien on Wednesday as he reflected on Poles’ rise to becoming the Bears’ new general manager.
“He’s very smart,” O’Brien said. “He’s intelligent. As most offensive linemen are, he’s a hard worker. He’s very dedicated to his trade. He doesn’t mind getting into the weeds and working.
“I know that he’ll have the dedication, smarts and skills to do a good job there for Chicago.”
O'Brien has maintained contact with Poles since he departed Boston College for North Carolina State in December 2006. He texted Poles on Tuesday night after learning he was hired by the Bears and received a message back finding excitement from Poles for this opportunity.
After graduating from Boston College in 2008, Poles joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent. He had just recovered from a torn Achilles and faced tough odds to stick with Chicago.
Poles was cut from the Bears’ roster and never made the team. Now, he’s running it.
The Bears hired Poles after he spent 13 years with the Chiefs, first as a player personnel assistant in 2009 and most recently as the executive director of player personnel. He rose through Kansas City’s front office under the watch of three general managers, making a strong impression that allowed for his emergence.
Now, the 36-year-old Poles is getting the opportunity to lead the Bears.
“It’s his turn,” O’Brien said. “I know that he’s worked hard to get to this position.”
O’Brien recalled Poles as being tentative as a freshman at Boston College, a quiet young man who was still finding his voice. It became amplified as he earned the opportunity at left tackle while protecting star quarterback Matt Ryan.
Poles became a confident leader at Boston College, and it’s what has carried him forward in the NFL. Though Poles boasts championship success with the Chiefs, O’Brien envisions him leading the Bears with his own vision.
“He can’t be what he was or who he worked for,” O’Brien said. “He has to be himself. But he has to take the best he can from his time working his way to this position and then put his own individual stamp on it.
“I think he’ll be dedicated to making them the premier program in the NFL. I don’t think he’ll stop short at anything to bring them the Super Bowl and the victories they’re looking for.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.