When the Ravens drafted fullback Kyle Juszczyk out of Harvard in the fourth round (130th overall), life came full circle for a man who has always been surrounded by football.
“Everywhere in Ohio, football is a way of life,” Juszczyk said when speaking of his hometown, Medina, which is 45 minutes from both Cleveland and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Friday nights, everyone is going to high school games. Saturday, everyone is watching the [Ohio State] Buckeyes, but where I’m at, everyone’s watching the Browns.”
“So obviously, that made for some complications when I got drafted by Baltimore,” Juszczyk said, laughing.
The complications Juszczyk speaks about haven’t been a total joking manner as they have forced his family to put their football allegiances aside to root along one of their own.
“Originally I was a Jets fan. I had this obsession with [former Jets wide receiver] Wayne Chrebet,” Juszczyk said. “As I got into my teens, I started to become a big Browns fan because my whole family was. My brothers were really into the Browns so I kind of came along with it.”
Returning the favor, one of his brothers immediately shed his allegiance (and Joe Haden jersey) in support of his brother on draft day.
Watch the video here.
As the family prepares to become Ravens fans (something that is essentially forbidden in Cleveland), they’ll be donning Ravens jerseys with “Juszczyk” on the nameplate. Even though FirstEnergy Stadium is a hostile environment, Juszczyk doesn’t fear for his family’s security.
“We just talked about that before I came here,” Juszczyk said. “My brothers are pretty big guys, I don’t think they’ll have to worry about that.”
Juszczyk is now entering his first ever NFL training camp and begins to not only adjust to a new job, but new surroundings as well. He had never visited Baltimore prior to being drafted and is already seeing the passion of the fan base.
On his way to the NFL’s rookie symposium, Juszczyk was stopped by a TSA agent.
“You don’t sound like a Harvard guy,” the agent said to Juszczyk, who wasn’t wearing any Harvard or Ravens clothing at the time.
When Juszczyk responded, “How did you know I went to Harvard?” the agent said, “C’mon man, you play for the Baltimore Ravens, you don’t think I know our fullback?”
“You might be new here, but we’ve been following this team for a while,” the agent concluded.
Even though Juszczyk is surprised he’s recognized, the class of the Ravens organization has been anything but a surprise.
“It was everything that I expected,” he said. “They’re a classy, tough organization that are consistently winners.”
The Ravens expect Juszczyk to help them win and they’ve shown their confidence in the rookie fullback, releasing veteran Vonta Leach, who is highly regarded as the best fullback in the NFL.
“It meant a lot to me that [the Ravens] could put that trust in me and I was more driven because of it,” Juszczyk said. “[The Ravens] can count on me and I have to show them that they made the right decision and that they can stick with it.”
With the strong statement the Ravens made by putting their confidence in Juszczyk and releasing Leach, Juszczyk just wants to let fans know that “Now, I’m Baltimore through and through.”
Welcome, Kyle. We think you’ll fit right in.