Rome Odunze

Rome Odunze is chasing records, hoping to ‘leave the Bears better than I found it'

Odunze is striving for the "highest of the high"

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When Rome Odunze got to Washington to play football for the Huskies, he researched all their records, aiming to best the school's receiving records from Day 1.

Now, with the Bears, he's already aiming to make similar history.

"I think that's important for every player to set those goals and strive for the highest of the high," Odunze said on Wednesday. "It's unique in my situation because I went to school with Puka Nakua. I was following him and got to see what he did. So absolutely. I'm chasing that. I think he's around right around 1,500 [yards], right? For that rookie season record I'm absolutely chasing that. I think Brandon Marshall has the single single-season record here, right?"

Indeed, Nukua set the single-season record for most receiving yards by a rookie last season, notching 1,486 yards. Odunze, DJ Moore, and Keenan Allen are aiming for that, as the trio has joked this offseason it'll be a "race to 1,000 yards."

At Washington, by the end of his three-year career, he finished second in career receptions (214), second in receiving yards (3,272) and third in receiving touchdowns (24) in school history. However, he set the school record for single-season receiving yards, catching for 1,640 yards in 2023.

Marshall holds the Bears' records for single-season receptions (118) and yards (1,508). As for career, Odunze couldn't remember his name, but Johnny Morris' 5,059 career yards leads the franchise through the air.

"I'm chasing those records and I think that's important because, you know, I said this at Washington, I want to hopefully leave the Bears organization better than I found it," Odunze said. "If I have my name on some of those records, I feel like that's just one facet of doing so."

Odunze has a long way to go. He missed some offseason work with a hamstring injury that's now fully recovered. He's also building chemistry with his draft-mate Caleb Williams.

But Odunze also has two other guys chasing the same things in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. Luckily, instead of competing with them, he gets to learn from them going into his first season in the NFL.

"I think it's not even measurable at the impact they're able to make on my career just being in the room with them for four or five weeks or so," Odunze said. "I've already learned so much. To be in a room with them throughout a whole season learning from them in training camp, I think it's gonna just take my game to the next level on something I'm super excited about because, you know, it's not often that you get to come under the wing of a Hall of Famer and then a soon-to-be Hall of Famer."

For now, Odunze has a break until then. The Bears have now until July 19 off before the start of training camp.

Odunze, when asked if he'd be OK with the Bears starting training camp, comically responded "Hell nah." The Washington wide receiver had the longest college football season in 2023, playing to the National Championship on Jan. 8.

First, he's traveling back to Las Vegas to visit family and friends. But he explained he doesn't feel like he needs to physical break before training camp. He wants to build a base from a physicality, conditioning and wide receiver standpoint to be confident when he returns to Halas Hall in July.

"I'm gonna maintain my lifting and exercise just so I can maintain my shape," Odunze said. "And then that next week or so, I'll probably be training somewhere. I got to figure that spot out. I'm gonna figure out exactly what I want to train and how I want to get there. But that'll be like a wide receiver base. But throughout this whole four weeks, I'll be strength and conditioning for sure.

"Because like I said, I'm not where I want to be at. But then the next two weeks or last two weeks, I'm thinking I'm gonna be out here. I want to be here at least two weeks before training hand starts so I can just get in my rhythm get my routine, and make sure I'm getting with a gym and the strength and conditioning staff so that way, when training camp comes around, I'm ready to go."

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