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Undrafted Bears CB Al Louis-Jean a quick study

Updated: September 9, 2014 6:33AM



Cornerback Al Louis-Jean might be the most anonymous of Bears rookies. But few have come further faster.

With a modest résumé after a checkered career at Boston College that included two starts, Louis-Jean, 20, parlayed a rookie minicamp tryout into a spot on the training-camp roster and is making the most of it. With Tim Jennings sitting out with a sore quadriceps, the 6-1, 187-pound Louis-Jean has been getting second-team reps at cornerback. He has not looked out of place.

“He has an opportunity,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said. “He’s done some good things. He’s made his share of mistakes. But he’s an interesting guy.”

The Bears’ preseason opener Friday at Soldier Field could be a significant step for Louis-Jean — a chance for him to prove he learns as quickly on the field as he does off it.

“He’s got length,’’ Hoke said. ‘‘He learns well. And he can communicate well in the meeting room. If you ask him a question, he knows his assignment. Those things are encouraging. And you see what you coach him [to do] carry over at times on the field. So I’m just intrigued.”

Louis-Jean is hardly overwhelmed by the situation. This is a kid who declared for the NFL draft after only 21 college games and with two seasons of eligibility left.

“From the start, I had confidence I could make the team,” he said, “just because I’m going to work hard and try to get better every day and try to make plays.”

His road just to this point is a wayward one. A highly recruited player out of Brockton (Mass.) High School south of Boston, he committed to Miami but de-committed when coach Randy Shannon was fired and signed with Boston College because of his familiarity with coach Frank Spaziani’s coaching staff.

It never really worked out at Chestnut Hill. Louis-Jean started two games as a true freshman in 2011 — including the season opener against Northwestern — but missed the 2012 season because of an injury, and Spaziani was fired.

He was out of his element under the new staff and played in 11 games as a nickel back last season — with 21 tackles, one pass breakup and one forced fumble. He was suspended twice for breaking team rules — missing the Eagles’ first game and their bowl game against Arizona. He said that did not have an impact on his decision to turn pro.

“It was just a decision me and my family made,” he said. “It’s just something I wanted to do — after three years, I felt I was ready for the NFL. The opportunity was there. It’s always been my dream.”

He wasn’t drafted, but nothing seems to bother Louis-Jean. And — maybe by his own will — he might finally be in the right place at the right time.

“I was expecting to get drafted late, but it didn’t work out,” he said. “But I’m here now. So it’s all right.”

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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