On Friday morning, the Browns held a workout with players who either grew up in or played college football in the Cleveland area. From offensive linemen to the defensive backs and wide receivers, players were put through Combine-like drills in front of Browns coaches, scouts and front office personnel.
Offensive lineman Dominic Alford (Shaker Heights High School), defensive backs Jonathan Cooley (John Carroll University) and Brandon Stephens (Strongsville High School), defensive end Keith Darbut (Baldwin-Wallace College), offensive back Donald Laster (Shaker Heights High School), wide receivers Mike Preston (Euclid High School), Tyrone Pronty (Maple Heights High School) and Frank Ross (John Carroll) and long snapper Kurt Schnittger (Lutheran West High School) were among those athletes who took part in the workout.
“It’s the No. 1 team in the nation to me,” said Ross. “I grew up a Browns fan and this is like a dream come true just to come out here. I was absolutely stoked and had every one of my family members give me a text message. It was really an absolute honor to be invited out here.”
“I think it went really well,” Darbut added. “It was a good opportunity for all the local guys to come out and show what they’ve got. A lot of these kids grew up loving the Browns and are big fans. Me being a Miami (Florida) guy, I haven’t been a fan for life, but any opportunity is huge for me. This is my last one before the draft, so I tried to take advantage of it.”
Ross, who helped raise $14,000 for the program through an appearance on the NBC show Deal or No Deal, finished his collegiate career as John Carroll’s all-time leader with 204 receptions. He had 2,252 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns over his four years as a Blue Streak and pursued a graduate degree during the 2010 season.
“I’ve been training the whole off-season at Tim Robertson Speed Strength in Eastlake for the combines and the Pro Days,” Ross said. “That’s my physical preparation and 100 percent mental focus. I did a sweep and clean of the house last night to get my body totally relaxed and my mind free. I was just 100 percent focused all night and all morning.
“The No. 1 thing against me would be my top-end speed,” he added. “I’m a shifty type of a slot receiver and I wanted to display those capabilities and abilities to the coaching staff and scouts today and catch the ball. I’m a sure-handed receiver and that’s kind of how I made my career as a college receiver, catching the little slant routes and getting the YAC (yards-after-catch) yards. I wanted to be a crisp route-runner and catch everything with my hands and burst out of every single catch after that. That’s what I wanted to show today.”
Darbut won the 2010 Ohio Athletic Conference Paul J. Hoernemann Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman award after registering 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles-for-loss. He finished his career with 21 sacks for 131 lost yards and showed some versatility when he hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass in 2010.
“I was just looking to show what I’ve got, be crisp out here, be clean and do what the coaches wanted,” Darbut said.
After completing their respective workouts, Darbut and Ross discussed their plans leading up to and beyond the 2011 NFL Draft.
“You’ve got to keep working,” said Darbut. “I’m going to take a little break, but I’m going to be right back in the weight room getting ready for camp. That’s the time to shine. It’s going to be tough, moving up to the next level and you’ve got to do that much better just to survive and keep your spot on the roster. I’m going to stay humble and work my (butt) off.”
“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” Ross said. “I dreamt of the NFL and if they tell me I’m not good enough to play here, I’ll be working my way up the coaching ladder and I’m going to get here one way or another. I’m determined and won’t stop until I get there.”