Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly may have talked negatively about him during the quarterback’s final season in South Bend in 2016, but DeShone Kizer has been nothing short of impressive since joining the Cleveland Browns. Whether it’s on or off the field, before or after practice, the rookie has made quite a name for himself already in Cleveland.
He’s been so impressive that head coach Hue Jackson named Kizer the starting quarterback for Week 1′s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10. The rookie will be thrown into the fire right away, but even if the Browns lose, it appears it will not be for a lack of preparation by Kizer. While he’s ready to lead the offense, Kizer’s also prepared to be the Browns quarterback the for the foreseeable future, both through the peaks and valleys of being Cleveland’s quarterback.
“It is awesome. When you have a coach who truly believes in you – obviously, he has put a lot of time and effort into my development – to have him by my side is an awesome experience at the quarterback position. We know in this sport the quarterback-coach relationship can go a long ways,” he said. “You see a lot of the successful teams have great quarterback and head coach relationships. For us to start off the way we have, obviously, if we can go out there and have a little success and we continue to grow in that sense, hopefully, this can be something that can last for 10-15 years.”
He wants to be the Browns quarterback for over a decade if at all possible, but he’s not going to take starting his first NFL game for granted, especially the moment he find out from Jackson.
“This is awesome. Obviously, it was an awesome opportunity to start in the preseason game, but now to know that I will be the guy heading into the season that will help lead this team to a couple of wins is obviously a really cool experience.
“Coach Jackson last week when he called to tell me I was going to start for Tampa, he just let me know that if all things went as planned that I would be the guy heading into the season,” the rookie said. “After a good week of practice and obviously going out and growing a little more in this Tampa game, it kind of fell in line.”
Since their return to the league in 1999, the Browns have had a number of quarterbacks. We know about the jersey that lists them all and about how incredibly high the number is, and because Kizer grew up in Toledo, he knows about the team’s struggles at quarterback since their return back into the NFL as well.
“This is really a unique situation since that I grew up in a town in which everyone is probably 50/50 divided between the Lions and the Browns. That split allowed me to learn quite a bit about this organization and obviously the question marks that have always been at quarterback. You see that list grow and grow and grow,” he said. “You hear people and the chatter throughout my whole community. Now to be on that list and hopefully end that list will be an awesome situation for me. This program is obviously historic and has had a lot of success. What this tradition that we have here has become over this quite a few years of playing in this league to now go out and represent it being from this area is truly an honor.”
Kizer hopes that he can put an end to that and be the quarterback for the foreseeable future in Cleveland. One that will lead the Browns to something special. One that will end the quarterback curse on the shores of Lake Erie. One that will, unlike the 26 others, not just be another another quarterback name on that long list since 1999.
“Enough to know that there has been quite a few. Due to injury and due to some success in the field, they have not been able to find their guy. That is all I need to know to understand that I need to go out there and work hard every day to stop that tradition here.
“Yeah, that has always been the goal,” the quarterback said. “The goal for me is being out there helping my team win. Obviously, winning is something that we want to do here and we haven’t been able to do for quite a few years now. To be a start of hopefully that tradition that we want to have here would be once again an honor.”
Kizer and Jackson believe he is prepared to start all season. There will be ups and downs, wins and losses, touchdowns and interceptions, and craziness throughout. The rookie seems wise beyond his years and is ready to (hopefully) be something special for the Browns.