BEREA, Ohio—Five former Baylors Bears walked side by side off the practice field in Berea, draped mostly in brown with orange accents appearing on assorted head gear.
The quintet walked in stride— former Baylor coach Art Briles smack in the middle, flanked by four current Browns.
On Briles’ left was recently reinstated receiver Josh Gordon, who played for Briles at Baylor from 2009 to 2010, and Robert Griffin III, who won a Heisman Trophy during his time in Waco.
On his right walked first-round wide receiver Corey Coleman and fifth-round offensive tackle Spencer Drango, each of whom traded in the green and gold for the orange and brown during the 2016 NFL Draft.
While it might be coincidence that each of the aforementioned players starred at Baylor, the Browns are counting on each of the former Bears to produce for Cleveland this season.
Briles believes that each of "his guys" will do just that.
“It’s going to be a real exciting year for the Cleveland Browns,” Briles said, with a smile.
Of course, Briles might be biased, but he’s been closer to the four players than anyone on the Browns and knows exactly what each can do for Cleveland, starting with Griffin.
“Oh heck yeah,” Briles said, when asked if the quarterback can return to his Rookie of the Year form. “You saw him today. I bet his completion rate was probably in the low 90s, didn’t have a turnover, really executed well.”
Griffin’s favorite target on Tuesday seemed to be the speedy Coleman, who has stood out in the handful of practices the Browns have held during Training Camp.
Briles was effusive in his praise for the former Biletnikoff Award winner.
“They’re going to think he’s one of the best to ever put on a Browns uniform,” Briles said. “He’s dynamite in a package. He’s explosive, he’s tough and he’s a fearless competitor.”
Griffin, who knows Coleman from their shared alma mater, worked out with the receiver this summer in California and is impressed with how quickly he’s adapted to the NFL.
“His speed flashes every day. He’s a dynamic player,” Griffin said. “That’s why he’s a first-round pick.”
Despite the tumultuous times he had while in Waco, even Gordon was on the receiving end of praise from his former coach.
No. 12 was dismissed from the Baylor program much like he was dismissed from the NFL last season, but Briles believes he'll make the most of his new opportunity.
“We’ve all had our trials and tribulations,” Briles said. “Josh is a sweet sweet spirit, a good person and you always gotta hope the best for people. I’m anxious to see the next phase of his journey.”
Briles isn’t fibbing when discussing trials and tribulations. He was fired by Baylor earlier this year for failure to control the football program and allegedly covering up harassment incidents for his players.
Browns coach Hue Jackson knows Briles’ story, but he won’t allow the allegations to take away from the fine job he’s done coaching Cleveland's potential playmakers.
“Obviously, he’s a very accomplished college coach,” Jackson said. “He’s done just outstanding at Baylor.”
The Baylor players are excited about joining forces in a different environment and know how important their development will be for the future of the team in Cleveland.
If they can make things work together, the experience could be even more special than their collegiate connection.
“Obviously myself, Josh, Corey and Drango all went to Baylor and we enjoy the fact that we all get to play together again or play together for the first time, so it is fun,” Griffin said. “But it's not our main focus. We're Cleveland Browns now. We're here to help resurrect this team and make it a consistent winner."
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove