The number wasn’t lost on Dorian Baker.
Of all of the players on the field at the team’s rookie minicamp, Baker had the best sense of what it meant to wear No. 19, so it made sense that he was the one wearing it. Of course Baker -- who grew up in Cleveland Heights and starred at Cleveland Heights High before landing at the University of Kentucky -- knew it was the number worn by Bernie Kosar, the Browns legend who was among a number of alums who addressed the rookies Thursday as they arrived in Berea.
“Come on. I just told you I’m a Browns fan,” Baker said. “I’m blessed. I’m blessed. It is an opportunity I get to showcase his number. Hopefully, I get it for the season. I am blessed to be representing his number right now.
“It is honestly a blessing to come back to this city, and I have all my friends and family supporting me. I am just excited to be here and have this opportunity.”
Baker was one of 15 undrafted free agents signed Friday. The disappointment he felt after not hearing his name called at the 2019 NFL Draft was short-lived because of a phone call from a familiar area code.
Baker couldn’t say if any other teams were interested in signing him as a free agent because he accepted Cleveland’s offer on the spot.
“I was passed up by all 32 teams so I am just coming in ready to work,” Baker said. “I have an opportunity, and that is all I need. As long as I have an opportunity to showcase my talents, I am going to make the best of it.
“By the grace of God, I got the phone call and was excited about it. I am just happy to be a Brown, happy to be a part of this organization and happy to be in the NFL.”
Baker suffered a significant ankle injury two weeks before the start of his senior season. He was granted a medical redshirt for 2018 and finished with 13 catches for 133 yards. His best year came as a sophomore, when he led Kentucky with 55 catches for 608 yards and three touchdowns. He started 34 of the 44 games he played.
Now, as he looks to carve out a niche on a Browns team that is chock full of talent at wide receiver after the March acquisition of All-Pro Odell Beckham Jr., he has a “support system” nearby rooting on his every move.
“You just have to come in and be a dawg,” Baker said. “You can’t be scared to take reps, and you have to handle your business as a man, too. You can’t come in here bringing the same college attitude. You have to come in ready to play and ready to work. That is the attitude I am bringing – ready to work.”