CLEVELAND, Ohio – Greg Newsom II was shocked on the second day of the NFL draft when his longtime good friend Perrion Winfrey, defensive tackle outside of Oklahoma, was still on the board at the end of the third round.
As he has done many other times over the years since they played rival high schools by 10 minutes in Illinois, Winfrey offered some words of encouragement.
I texted him ‘Be patient, I feel like you’ll be off the board soon’ Newsome told cleveland.com by phone Friday the first day of Winfrey’s junior campground. “I said, I wish we could pick you up.”
By then, Newsom already had a strong feeling that Winfrey would soon become Doug, though he didn’t put pressure on Andrew Perry, the Browns’ general manager.
“I was like, ‘We definitely get it,'” Newsom said.
The moment Perry Winfrey picked up with the 108th pick in the fourth round, Newsom texted GM.
“I was like, ‘You made the right choice,'” Newsom said.
Minutes later, Newsom watched Winfrey’s epic Draft Day press conference, which was complete with barks and the “I’m coming straight with my son Miles Garrett, best defensive end in the game” spread on social media.
“I think I might have replayed it and watched it at least 20 times, for sure,” Newsom said with a laugh.
She was the same Winfrey he had known and loved since high school, when Winfrey played at Lake Park in Rosell, Illinois, and Newsom starred in Glenbard North in nearby Carol Stream before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. .
It’s not work at all,” Newsom said. “He’s literally like this all the time. On the field, off the field, if you’re having a hard day in training, he’ll be the guy who will keep bringing energy and raising the bar.”
After facing off since high school, Newsom thought Winfrey was a lock to be late in the first or second round.
“He’d definitely be the recruiter,” Newsom said. “He shouldn’t have been so late, but I’m glad he came to us. I’m glad he fell a little bit so we have a chance to be on the same team.”
Even in Lake Park, Winfrey was a nightmare to defend.
“It wasn’t a problem,” Newsom said. ‘He never wants to give up on a play. He works out for everyone. You literally have to put about three people on him in high school to stop him. He was just terrifying there.’
At the time, Winfrey, who played the nose for the 3–4 lead for Oklahoma, played at the end, but moved on.
“It wasn’t as big as it is now (6-4, 290),” Newsom said. ‘He was the thinnest. But he dominated wherever he lined up.’
Although they described it as a competition, it was not in the classical sense.
“We’d hit them every single time,” Newsom said. “It’s not really a competition because you have to win some matches in order to be a competition. So we will definitely have some fun with that.”
Despite the competition on the field, Winfrey and Newsom stuck in the same group of friends and bonded over their shared dream of playing in the NFL. When it came time to attend college, Newsom headed to Northwestern, and Winfrey started at Iowa Western Community College because of the academics. But Newsom has remained in close contact.
“I checked in to him and made sure he was good, because I knew who jumped out — from playing with him in high school — I was like, ‘This guy is good,’” Newsom said. “I tried to get him to my high school because he was good. He had to deal with a few things and go a different route, but I knew if he got a chance in the first division, he’d make the most of it. ”
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During the JUCO grind, Winfrey appreciated Newsom’s outreach.
“It just shows you how amazing Gregory Newsom is and how loving and caring he is – what a great leader,” Winfrey told cleveland.com.
After dominating Iowa Western, Winfrey received offers from Alabama, Baylor, Texas, LSU and Oklahoma as the No. 1 JUCO company in the country, before settling on the Sooners.
“I was very happy for him,” Newsom said. “JUCO is a tough road, and it shows how much hard work he went through to get the choice of picking the school you wanted. I knew people in Oklahoma, so I knew what Lincoln Riley was and knew he would go to a great head coach. It was definitely great to watch his career begin there. ”
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While Winfrey was in Oklahoma, Newsom continued to text him and follow his career closely. Just like in high school and in western Iowa, he was working halfway and was a burden to deal with.
“It’s great to know that he has such love and enthusiasm for me, because I felt the same way about him knowing that at Northwestern he was in control the way he did,” Winfrey told cleveland.com. “We have always supported each other over the years, just wanting the best for each other.”
When Newsome was ranked 26th overall last year by the Browns, no one was prouder than Winfrey.
“I was so happy with him knowing that not many people thought he was going to go in the first round,” Winfrey said. “I couldn’t wait to see what he would do each week.”
The moment Winfrey announced the draft, after earning his All-Big 12 second-team honors in 2021 for a stellar season in which he scored 11 fouling fouls, 5.5 sacks and forced fouls in starting all 12 games, Newsom was feeling down to earth.
“Obviously we were looking for d interventions,” Newsom said. “We lost two (owner Jackson and Malik McDowell) so I knew it was a situation he needed.”
When Brown achieved this, Winfrey and Newsom blew each other’s phones.
“We only went crazy all night when we knew we’d finally be on the same team, and instead of controlling each other, we’d be able to dominate teams together,” Winfrey said.
Newsom agrees with Winfrey that ‘it will be over’ with Winfrey joining Miles Garrett and possibly Jadvion Clooney in the defensive line.
“In the last year, you’ve obviously seen these two guys,” Newsom said. “Hopefully we get JD back too, but to add Winfrey to a front like this? Like I said last year, you don’t have to cover for long and that’s a corner dream. I definitely appreciate the big guys up front and the fact that we’ve added more to it, I love it.”
On top of that, Newsome thinks Winfrey could be one of the best things that ever happened to Garrett, who welcomed the novice on draft night with a tweet. “Juice so no need for coffee!!!! Let’s get to work. “
“Obviously it’s great to have amazing runners, but if you have a guy in the middle causing chaos, he (the QB) has to run around and that leads them straight to the top two on the edge or at least Miles as of,” Newsom said. It will also make Miles’ job a lot easier. He might be having his best season yet with a guy like this on the inside.
Newsom said the fact that Winfrey named Powell MVP honors back in February as a D deal speaks volumes.
He said, “This is not happening.” “It shows how elite players really are.”
Winfrey, who played down the issue in an interview with the junior camper on Friday, vowed to follow Garrett’s lead.
“At first I will see more than I hear, just let my actions do the talking and obviously follow whatever Miles Garrett does,” he said. “He goes to the bathroom, I go to the bathroom. He gets a drink of water, and I drink water. I just play, but… I’m not going to try to control people right away and tell people what to do. I’ll listen and enjoy things like a sponge.”
Watch Winfrey’s Draft Day Interview
But Newsom is keen that Winfrey brings more fire to the defense, which has plenty of good leaders but certainly no one as loud as a novice.
“I am a very passionate and energetic guy, but there are some days when I need a little lift,” Newsom said. “It’s definitely great to have these guys in the building at all times.”
But perhaps, Newsom predicted, such a hype isn’t everyone’s cup of coffee.
“Can [he fell in the draft] ‘Because of the passion it brings,’ Newsom said. “Maybe some people think it’s a bad thing or something. I can’t tell you why. But I think the rest of the 31 GM after they saw what he’s doing for us in the first year and his career, I think a lot of them would be very upset because they inherited him for three consecutive rounds.
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