Perrion Winfrey sees Browns as fate due to fans, LeBron James

BEREA – As soon as Perrion Winfrey arrived in Cleveland, about 10 Browns fans greeted him at the airport with orange helmets they wanted autographed.

When Winfrey went to get pizza earlier this week, a couple started barking and he returned the gesture.

“Love has been crazy,” Winfrey said Friday before the first of three rookie minicamp workouts at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.

Winfrey calls Chicago’s West Side home, but the charismatic and energetic rookie defensive tackle who hails from the University of Oklahoma quickly became convinced he’s destined to launch his NFL career in the Northeast. from Ohio.

“Sooners fans are crazy, but it’s crazy because Browns fans are crazier than Sooners fans,” Winfrey said. “I didn’t think it got much crazier.

“I didn’t know the fans were so crazy or so passionate about the team. Just knowing that makes me want to be challenged even more, knowing that if I give that passion and effort to the team, it will come right back to me.

After the Browns drafted Winfrey in the fourth round (No. 108 overall) on April 30, he conducted an instant classic Zoom call with beat writers who cover the team. He paced throughout the call, delivered many memorable quotes, and barked a few times. Winfrey explained that he lost his voice for a little while after the draft, but it came back.

“It was a lot of people who sent me [direct messages] of barking videos,” Winfrey said in an entertaining interview but much more subdued than her introduction to Cleveland media. “They were sending voice videos of barking – not saying a word, just barking.”

To be clear, Winfrey called himself a “dawg” years before he knew he would be playing in front of the Dawg Pound. He donned a button-up shirt emblazoned with images of Doberman Pinschers during the draft. His wardrobe selection and the Browns choosing him was coincidental, his mother, Shantel Walker, pointed out.

“I’ve barked my whole life,” Winfrey said.

Perrion Winfrey says his Oklahoma teammates make him feel at home on transition to Cleveland Browns

During the later stages of the draft, Winfrey grew even more excited about joining the Browns because they picked two of his teammates from Oklahoma – sixth-round receiver Mike Woods (No. 202 overall ) and defensive end Isaiah Thomas in the seventh round (#202). 223 altogether). The Sooners made up one-third of Cleveland’s nine picks.

“The Cleveland Sooners,” Thomas joked.

Thomas added that the three friends had planned to go shopping together for the essentials on Friday after fulfilling their minicamp duties.

“Having this brotherhood and going through the same process is pretty cool,” Thomas said.

NFL Free Agency News:Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry signs deal with New Orleans Saints

Winfrey, Woods and Thomas joined a group chat during the draft to celebrate being selected by the same team.

“There was a lot of barking, but we definitely cut it a bit, telling each other how excited and proud we were to all be together,” said Woods, who was limited to a jogging pace at Friday practice because he’s dealing with a coach with a leg injury, Kevin Stefanski, who says it’s no big deal.

Winfrey said he lost his mind when he learned that his Sooners linemate Thomas was going to Cleveland. He was one of the first people to call and text Thomas after the choice was made.

“Our chemistry is almost unmatched,” Winfrey said. “We just have a knack for playing with each other. We always know what other people are doing, and it’s easy for us. Our communication and everything is 100%.

“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had in the dressing room. He’s one of the guys who’s not only going to hold you accountable, but he’s going to hold himself accountable on and off the pitch, and his work ethic is unmatched.

A flag, fans and hitting it true:Cleveland legend Phil Dawson advises Browns rookie kicker Cade York

Winfrey and Thomas thought they would be drafted sooner than they were, so they are determined to use the disappointment as fuel.

“We’ve talked about all these teams letting us down and we remember that,” Winfrey said, “and we keep that in mind and we’re constantly going to work every day to make every team pay to have us. transmitted. and just bring a championship to this organization.

“We are here for a reason,” Thomas said. “God put us in this position. He didn’t bring us here to fail. We are all here for the same goal: to win the Super Bowl and carry the standard that the Browns have now. »

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, right, celebrates after cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. knocked down a member of the coaching staff during drills during the NFL football team's rookie minicamp in Berea on Friday.

Perrion Winfrey eyes good partnership with Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett

The draft weekend continued to become more memorable for Winfrey. As the video clips of his Zoom call went viral, Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett shared them on social media.

“[Garrett] texted me right after, just said congratulations, that he was ready to work,” Winfrey said. “And it was really mind blowing to know that a 99 overall on Madden just posted me on his Instagram. It was cool. It was dope.

” I work hard. He works hard. We both have a common goal of winning a championship, so I feel like we’re going to work well together.

Thomas insisted that the intensity that caught Garrett’s eye is genuine.

“Whatever thing is furthest from shyness, it has always been [Winfrey]”, Thomas said. “He always had that chip on his shoulder too, like he had something to prove to himself essentially.

“Coming to Oklahoma, he had that. You saw his interview. Even before he had done anything on the pitch, he was back up, ready to go. Same in Oklahoma. The first day I meet him, he is loud. I’m like, ‘Hey, relax. Hey, it’s been through, bro. He always had that energy. I’m glad he has that because I feed on him too.

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey participates in drills during the NFL Football Team's rookie minicamp in Berea on Friday.

Winfrey said he had played with energy all his life, adding that he didn’t sleep much because he was naturally wired.

“As soon as he opens his eyes, he’s passionate and intense,” Woods said.

However, Winfrey will try to call that back when he’s with the Browns veterans this spring and getting to know them during the voluntary offseason practice program.

“I feel like at first I’ll be more seen than heard, just letting my actions do the talking and obviously following everything Myles Garrett does,” Winfrey said. “He goes to the toilet, I go to the toilet. He drinks water, I drink water.

“No, I’m just playing, but obviously I’m just taking into account the things he teaches me because obviously he’s doing something great at this level and that’s something I want to do. So, just follow in his footsteps. I probably won’t try to dominate people right away and tell them what to do. I’ll probably just listen and soak things like a sponge.”

February 5, 2022;  Mobile, AL, USA;  Oklahoma National Team defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (98) reacts after a first half play against Team USA at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Former Sooners star Perrion Winfrey wants to bring a championship to Cleveland like LeBron James

Winfrey has already absorbed the advice of her favorite basketball player. After signing with Klutch Sports Group as part of draft preparation, he had a phone conversation with LeBron James, who is also represented by the agency.

“[James said] don’t listen to the noise outside, just try to be the best version of myself every day,” Winfrey said. “[He talked about] enjoying the journey and falling in love with the grind and everything i want will come into play if i put my head down and work.

When NFL Scouting Combine organizers assigned Winfrey number 23 in early March, he took it as a sign that he was supposed to be there in Indianapolis because James wears the same jersey number.

“I’m trying to bring a championship to Cleveland, just like [James] done,” Winfrey said.

Now Winfrey is No. 97, which he sees as further proof that he’s meant to be with the Browns. He wore No. 97 in high school and at Iowa Western Community College, where he played before Oklahoma. He has 97 tattooed on the backs of his hands, with nine on one hand and seven on the other. Each number is surrounded by flames.

“Every time I look at my hands, it just lets me know that this is adversity I’ve been through and I can overcome just about anything,” Winfrey said. “So when the equipment manager called me, he was like, ‘We only have one number available.’ I was like, ‘What number is that?’ He said, ’97.’ I feel like it was intended.”

Winfrey spent the last two seasons in Oklahoma, where he played tackle. But Winfrey, former Sooners defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux and the Browns agree that his ideal position is the three-technique defensive tackle. He had the opportunity to show off his passing skills on the spot in February at the Senior Bowl and became the game’s most valuable player.

Now Winfrey is part of a young group of defensive tackles with a chance to become an immediate contributor for the Browns.

“I really feel like it’s a blessing to know that I have a chance to start this year,” he said.

It’s extremely early, but the adjustment to Cleveland seems natural to Winfrey.

From left, Nik Bonitto, Kennedy Brooks, Justin Broiles and Perrion Winfrey cheer on a teammate during OU's pro day inside Everest Training Center in Norman on Wednesday.

Nate Ulrich can be contacted at [email protected].

Comments are closed.