CLEVELAND -- Sometimes, through hard work and dedication, dreams really can come true.
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer always dreamed of one day playing in the National Football League, and that goal will be realized when he takes the field to start the 2017 regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium today.
“Absolutely, this is a dream come true,” Kizer said. “This is my first-ever start and my first-ever regular season game so yeah, when that time comes, it is going to be fun, but as soon as that coin flips and we are out there with the ball in our hands, I am sure it is just going to go back to the job that it is.”
The Future is Now: DeShone Kizer set to start for Cleveland Browns
Since being selected with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kizer earned the right to make his dream come true with a solid showing throughout the offseason program and training camp.
Through the first three games of the preseason, Kizer completed 25 of his 49 attempts for 351 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. Despite completing just 51 percent of his passes, Kizer averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, the best of all Browns quarterbacks this preseason.
In the Browns’ 13-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on August 26, Kizer completed just six of his 18 throws with an interception, but gained 93 yards and converted multiple first downs through the air.
“This is new for me,” Kizer said. “This league is different than anything I have ever been a part of in the sense that there are going to be guys that are in and out of this locker room. That is the reality of the fact, but I think it is up to me to focus on doing my job and how I’m going to execute our gameplan, and then, allow the chemistry and the development that you need with receivers to come along.”
In order to ready his rookie quarterback for the start against the Steelers, Browns coach Hue Jackson challenged Kizer to “create a process and stick to it,” and that routine includes soaking up all that the game-day atmosphere has to offer and keeping the environment as close to reality as possible.
“A lot of people like to put on headphones, and they kind of create a false reality to try to get hyped up and stay locked in,” Kizer said. “For me, I don’t like to listen to music. I like to be out there experiencing and allowing the moment to build so when you step out there for your first play, you have already felt that.
“You have heard the crowd, you have already smelled the smells and you are ready to go. I think when you put headphones on, you create something that is not real. You see the things, but you don’t hear them, and you are still in your own head. For me, I like to be out there, hearing everything, feeling everything, so when it comes time to go out there and play, I’m ready to go.”