BEREA, Ohio -- Former University of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer did not grow up a fan of the Cleveland Browns, but he sure is now.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, and graduate of Central Catholic High School, Kizer was selected by the Browns with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft last month, and the second-round choice looks forward to representing the orange and brown.
“I have much respect for them being from Ohio,” Kizer told the Cleveland media shortly after the draft. “There are so many fans around, and my whole family is Cleveland Browns fans. After making the decision to go to the NFL, there is an obvious connection between myself and their situation.
“From the experiences I was able to go through in this 2016 season, the experiences of going through the 2015 season and comparing them, from having some success to not as much success, I will be able to hopefully bring that over and continue to learn as much as I possibly can, and then, try to do whatever I can to contribute to winning some games.”
In his two years as a starter, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer completed 423 of his 696 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.
Pressed into service because of an injury to Malik Zaire during the 2015 season, Kizer completed 211 of his 335 attempts for 2,884 yards and 21 touchdowns against 10 interceptions over 13 games with the Fighting Irish.
During a 4-8 season in 2016, Kizer battled through coaching issues to complete 212 of his 361 attempts for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions despite being sacked 25 times behind the Fighting Irish’s struggling offensive line.
After declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft, Kizer built up a rapport with the Browns’ front office and coaching staff.
“Being from this area and playing right down the road at Notre Dame, I was able to already get to know those guys through the relationships I was able to create off of the field,” Kizer said. “Going into the combine, I had two informal (interviews) with them, a formal, and then, they came and saw me before my pro day.
“I was able to work out for them, and then, finish it up with a facility visit. I was able to go complete circle with those guys, get to know them and explain who I was to them. Obviously, I owe it to them for pulling the trigger on me.”
And after building those relationships during the pre-draft process, Kizer is ready to get to work with second-year Browns coach Hue Jackson.
“I cannot wait to learn from Coach Jackson,” Kizer said. “Even these last couple of months getting to spend a little time with him, he has been able to make a couple of adjustments to my footwork and to my mentality that allowed me to be a little more consistent and accurate within just a month or two.
“I can’t wait to actually be with them where we can spend as much time together as needed to maximize the potential that I think I have.”