When I first looked at the wide receivers on the current Browns roster, the one player who immediately struck me as being similar to myself, beyond just the fact he wears No. 88, was Jujuan Dawson.
I really liked the way he played when I first saw him at the beginning of the season.
But as time went on, I realized Quincy Morgan is a bigger, stronger player who is right around the corner from being a very good player.
He is a rookie. He is playing pretty well, especially considering the fact he is just a rookie.
Most people don't understand just how difficult it is coming into this league. Coming out of college, you don't comprehend how tough it is for rookies to keep up their concentration for not only 16 weeks during the regular season, but for the four preseason games when you are battling for a roster spot.
The one thing I have yet to see from either Dawson or Morgan is whether they are able to take the shots while running across the middle. Kevin Johnson has been running most of the slants.
Looking back, when I was a rookie, selected in the seventh round out of Elizabeth City State, I didn't play at all in the regular offense. All I did was play on the special teams.
So guys like Dawson and Morgan, as well as Dennis Northcutt, are ahead of the game in comparison to myself.
What put them even further ahead was the fact all of them came out of college programs far better than mine. My college program at Elizabeth City was flat-out very weak.
My college coach was an art teacher who only played four years of college football and never went to an NFL camp a day in his life.
He didn't really have the insight into football that players who go to larger universities would receive in terms of their coaching. The basics were there, but not the opportunity to grow.
So when I came into the league, I didn't know anything about reading defenses. I didn't know anything about safeties inverting; when they go backwards, when they go sideways.
It was mostly a one-on-one thing for me in college. Beat the man on top of me, catch the ball, then try to run as fast and a far as I could.
When I got into the NFL, the first thing that slowed me up was that I was thinking about what to do, which prevented my natural talent from being able to take over.
But then Lindy Infante came to town. He was a teacher. He was the biggest reason for my success as a receiver.
First off, Lindy's offensive scheme gave you an opportunity to study various defenses. You got the opportunity to understand what goes on on the offensive side of the ball as well as what is taking place on the defensive side of the ball. He made us learn offensive blocking schemes and what the line is doing in every situation. We learned the various protection schemes, including what the back is doing in every situation.
That gave me a bigger picture of the situation. I could see 11 guys moving around as opposed to just myself against a safety or corner.
But even though I might have been further along in terms of my football ability had I gone to a bigger college, I would take nothing back as far as what I did as far as football is concerned.
Yeah, I would have loved to gone to a big university as far as getting the feel for the whole situation, but I'm very proud of where I went to school. I just entered the Hall of Fame at Elizabeth City. It was a close knit group. I was not just a number. The university did me very well.
Thinking back, I wish I would have had an opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl, but I'll take the Fish Bowl against Norfolk State, which was just as good.
This article first appeared in the 12/03/2001 premiere issue of Bernies Insiders