BEREA, Ohio -- Since the Cleveland Browns selected offensive lineman Joel Bitonio in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Long Beach, California, native and former University of Nevada left tackle has gone through a whirlwind.
From the moment he picked up the phone, Bitonio had 24 hours to gather his things, catch a flight to Cleveland, and begin his career as an NFL offensive lineman.
"It's gone unbelievably fast," Bitonio said of his first week in the NFL. "You get drafted, and they're like, 'Oh, you're coming out on Sunday.' That's one day you get. You come in here Sunday morning, and all week, they've been having us learning plays, learning footwork, learning technique, working out with the strength coaches, meeting the older guys.
"It's almost been like a camp atmosphere for the last week for the young guys. We're trying to get ready to go. We want to try and catch up with the older guys who have been in the system for a few more weeks than us. They try to put us through plays, put us through technique and just get us caught up."
While many draft prospects headed to Radio City Music Hall in New York City, there was only one place Bitonio wanted to be.
Bitonio elected to stay home in California for the draft because his late father, Mike, poured his heart into the house. Despite Bitonio having to travel long distances to his NFL home once he was drafted, it was where he could celebrate with those who meant the most to him.
"I was going to stay home, regardless, but he did a lot maintenance in there, did a lot of things, made a lot of things, and it was just easier on my family," Bitonio said. "My grandparents, my uncle, my aunt, my mom, everybody could get there. It was a good atmosphere for it, and we were excited when it happened."
Now that the excitement of the draft has settled down, the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Bitonio is looking forward to working on football without any distractions.
"In college, you think, 'Oh, I've got to go to school. I've got to do stuff,'" Bitonio said. "This is your job now. This is your profession. You're a professional football player, and I think that was the goal for all of us that got drafted or got signed here. Going through the day, you think, 'Man, this is what I have to do. It's not too bad. I could play football every day.'"