DT Jowon Briggs (5.10.24)


Jowon, what’s just the emotional ride been like from getting the call a couple of weeks ago to now being here for the first time?

“I’ve been on an emotional high ever since, so, you know, it was always a building up to this point and just making sure that I could put myself in a position to hear my name called. So now I’m riding high on those emotions and ready to attack camp with that same energy.”


As Saturday went on, did you think you were going to get drafted?

“I always approached it with, you know, the worst expectation, and then if you hear something great, just think of it as a hell of a blessing. So that’s how I looked at it. You know, I wanted to make sure I had things in line. You know, I have my family, so I’m not just thinking of things on a whim. So I want to make sure I had things aligned and planned in place, and I just got blessed enough to hear my name called, so now I got to make the most of it.”


What’s the short version of leaving Virginia, coming back to your hometown? Why did that go about? Why was that important?

“Yeah. So what happened was I was, like, six games in, doing well. Already had three sacks, 20 tackles, feeling pretty good as a nose tackle. But my wife got pregnant with my son, so, you know, the stipend wasn’t what it was now back then, so stipend wasn’t there, NIL wasn’t there. So I figured weren’t going to be able to support a child on what I was getting there. So, you know, we had a couple of choices. She’s from Philly, I’m from Cincinnati. So it’s either go UPenn or go Temple, or I can go to University of Cincinnati. Both her parents worked, only my dad worked. So I figured we’d get more help at home. You know, I was able to get back home, picked up a couple of jobs, and, you know, I was able to make the most of it.”


What were those jobs?

“I was a manager at a chicken spot called Chicken Cone. Pretty much just, you make ice cream cone, put chopped up chicken in it. It’s the wildest thing. People loved it.”


How long did you do that for?

“It was during the off season, so pretty much during the summer and into the winter I would work there. My manager, Kenny, great guy. I mean, to this day, he’s a great dude for letting me do that, just teaching me how to do all that and pretty much let me provide for my family and my people to do that pretty nice.”


That had to be tough?

“Oh, yeah. So I’m waking up early, getting to practice early. About six you go practice, lift pretty much until about maybe three, four, five. You know, if it’s an in-season day or if it’s a spring ball day, you’re going until 5-6:00 after I’m heading right up 30 minute drive to Blue Ash down there and closing up shop and, you know, working till about getting home, about 10:30. And make dinner for breakfast. Make breakfast and dinner for the next day. And, you know, washrooms, repeat.”


Did it make you not want to eat chicken?

“You know, as much as I can say that stuff smelled delicious, I probably could not eat any of that anymore.”


In reading about you, it just seems like talking about your family now that’s a big part of who you are. So can you just talk about how you met your wife’s name and your kids and all that?


“Yeah. So as soon as we touched down at UVA, we met. So I got there, I think June 6, right after my state track meet. She got there early as a transition program. So, literally, the first day we got there was a campfire at our dorm. Met her, saw her. Then it was kind of petered off a little bit. Then it ran back up, and, you know, we kind of got there into the second year in the season, my son popped out, so I was like, well, you know, time to grow up. And, you know, after that, we convened together, made a pros and cons list of staying versus leaving. So, we decided that would be best to leave. Left, went to Cincinnati, and then I figured it would only be right – and, ‘Well, hey, you already are having my son. Let’s get married.’ So that’s kind of how things fell into place and where. I mean, we’ve just been killing it since then.”


How much of a sense of urgency has that kind of created in trying to get to this spot right now?

“I mean, it’s been. It’s been a heck of one. I mean, just really understanding how to manage time, even in the sense of just with a kid, let alone having a wife and somebody else in your house. Just understanding the importance of time, you know? So, it’s definitely been slapping me on the behind, trying to have me really be urgent on things.”


What were the kid’s reactions when you got that call and told everybody, ‘I’m going to the Browns’?

“I would love to say that they were, you know, ‘Daddy!’ But my kids are my kids, you know, they like to do what they like to do. So I’m freaking wrangling them. They’re running around acting crazy. Mind you, they go to bed at 7:30 probably. So they’re running around, my daughter and son wrestling. So, I’m pulling them apart. And, you know, I get that call on my phone. I sit down, my wife’s holding my youngest son and trying to hold them back at the same time. So it was a lot of fun that night.


And how are they? And their names, please?

“So, Jowon, my oldest son, is three. Reine, my daughter, she’ll be two in July. And then Zane, my youngest, is eight months.”


I mean, it just seems like you have so many exploits off the field, which I’m sure we’re going to want to get to. But I know you were on like Bruce Feldman’s freaks list last year going into that. I mean, what did that mean to make that list? It’s kind of widely talked about, at least amongst us, and just talk about your training and lifting and conditioning and all that stuff, how much it’s helped you advance to this point.

“So for me, I’m big on, especially when I was younger, I was big on being really eclectic. And you can be eclectic but be, you know, bad at a lot of stuff. So my thing was be eclectic and find what you’re really, really good at. I was good at, you know, singing. I was good at academics. I was good at football. I was good at track and field. You know, I was good at loving all my family and working. So, I took those basically five, six things and then just put my all into it. You know, I love working out, even from high school and into college, you know, getting more workouts and extra workouts. I love nutrition, so just taking care of my body, making sure that, you know, I look the way I should move and I move the way I should look. So, just making sure I have that. And, you know, family, of course, just making sure I have time for them as well. Football, man, I can talk about football for hours, whether it be watching film. I mean, I don’t play video games or anything. So, whether it be staying up late watching film with my son, drawing up stuff on the board or, you know, even just getting out and walking through and doing a couple of club rips on something. So it was really just a matter of trying to put my all into those five to six things that I really decided to do. And that’s pretty much what I’m doing now, too.”


How does your, you know, your family and just your experience inform your expectations and your drive coming in here as a rookie?

“I mean, I think it’s everything. Everybody has their why, but you know, it’s a big thing to have your why, and it’s a really big thing to love. It’s a really big thing to love football, but it’s a little bit different when you have somebody else depending on you. And I got four people depending on me immediately, so that kind of amps up the urgency to the things and just really makes me take advantage of every single second out there.”


When you receive calls in the last round about undrafted offers. The ability to choose your own team didn’t appeal to you? Would you rather have been a free agent?

“I think everybody’s end goal is to get drafted. You know, I love being Cleveland Brown. So, shoot, I think, obviously, I walked into it with the expectation of don’t expect anything and then be proud of a blessing that you could receive. And so after that, I mean, no, I wasn’t. You know, I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t really saying, ‘Oh, yeah, you know, I’m just going to forego the last round and be undrafted.’ That’s never, ever been a thought process. I think hearing my name called is something that my family will relish and remember to this day.”


How many teams do you know were interested in you?

“It was a bunch of them. You know, I don’t really know exactly. You know, everything was happening so fast. My son Jowon was taking my phone, and my daughter was biting at my ankles. So, there was a lot going on that day.”


What is harder, wrangling three kids or 42 reps on the bench press?

“You know, I’ll tell you what, 42 reps on the bench press actually felt serene compared to what those kids put me through on a nightly basis. But that’s why, you know, my wife’s a superstar. She’s actually wrangling them all right now.”


What is her name?



So, yeah, so you hope to be here, but as a 7th rounder, you’re not guaranteed. So, is the family moving up right away? Like, how are you handling that?

“No matter what, I keep my family with me. So, I’m actually going to look into figuring out and getting a place, and, you know, my goal is to outwork and pretty much just put my best foot forward and all you can do is control the controllables. You know, you can just be responsible for yourself. But in saying that, family is one of my big things, so I’m keeping my family with me all throughout this process. I gotta break a lease, I gotta sign a new one. Doesn’t really matter to me as long as my family’s with me. And, you know, just really being able to go home and look at that ‘why’ every time, is something big for me.”


Now that you’re here, what excites you the most about the Cleveland Browns and just being in this city?

“I mean, it’s big for me coming from coach (Jim) Schwartz and coach Jacques (Cesaire) and coach JT (Jordan Thomas). It’s just really big for me coming from a freaking lateral, passive-type defense, to be able to really just pin my ears back and go, I’ve never really had the chance. You know, a lot of guys will say, ‘Oh, well, he did 42 reps and he squats XYZ. Well, why is he on the line all the time?’ Or, ‘Why is he playing lateral or whatever?’ And a lot of people don’t understand that. You know, if you’re a well-coached player, you do what the scheme dictates, and that’s what I like to do to help my team win and help my team be great. But finally, you know, I get a chance to kind of play at what I think would be my strengths, and that’s attacking a guy in front of me and just really getting upfield and, you know, letting my strength play its part.”


What were all the positions you played? Because you moved. I mean, change your field, right?

“Yeah. So, I started off playing from really a true, like, reading nose zero to pretty much, like, two wide. Sometimes a three tech can pass through. Then that next year at Virginia, all the way up and down the line. So we did a lot of read, front four-eye, four tech, a little bit of five tech in past scenarios, zero as well. My next year, Cincy, Five Tech, true five tech. In past situations, I scoot down to be a three the next year, but beefed up a little bit, was a true read no zero tech, two-gapping guy. Mind you, it’s all the line. So, the year after that, this past year, I was pretty much a five-technique. Sometimes I’d be standing up. Sometimes I’d be dropping back in coverage. Sometimes I’d be a little four-eye, you know, attacking that guard’s shoulder. But, you know, I just can’t tell you how refreshing it is to just be able to, you know, pin your ears back and attack a guy as opposed to doing this – taking the lateral step first.”


So you’re a three-technique here?

“Yeah, interior.”


So even though you haven’t been in that attacking scheme, you think you showed enough on film that—obviously you did— that the Browns saw the qualities they were looking for?

“Yes, sir, I think so. And I think a big thing for me was just being able to attack the can’t. Like the bowl circuit after my last game. I mean, we didn’t get a bowl game. So, you know, being able to go to the Hula, you know, thankful for them for inviting me to that. Then after the hula, I earned an invite to the Shrine [Bowl]. Thankful for that as well. And just being able to just really attack those guys and beat up on those O linemen is something that has brought me to this point. I mean, doing all that during the pro day is great, too, but actually being able to see a guy go against top-tier O linemen is something that will, you know, make your case a little bit better.”


Did you know anything about the browns before you were drafted here?

“Yes, sir. So my dad’s from Detroit, my mom’s from Springfield, so we’ve pretty much been around the whole Midwest area all the time. Yeah, I’ve known a lot. I’ve known a good amount about the Browns.”


You didn’t play in that third leg at the Senior Bowl?

“Hey, if they would have had me, I would have gladly. I would have been down there. I think it was like a two-day discrepancy. I would have gladly hopped on a flight and went down there. A lot of guys like to opt out of games. I’m a big proponent of you want as much tape as you can get. So, I would have gladly went down there and done that, but I didn’t get invited. So I made the most of my opportunities.”


You mentioned knowing what you like and what you’re good at, then you said, music. Tell us about your relationship with music?

“Yeah. So music has been a big thing in my family. My mother and father and pretty much everyone on their side have all grown up with music in their families and singing in church, even singing during concerts and singing and playing in orchestras during, you know, school. I have four older sisters. All of them were musically inclined. A little more so than me, I’d say, but they all did different things. So that plays back into me saying, I like to be eclectic. I decided to look at all of them and try to do everything. So, my oldest sisters are vocalists, but then they were also good at the piano and percussion. Second or third oldest sister, she was a violinist, pretty much. She was great at the violin and also a great vocalist. She actually does a lot of shows in Kansas City now. My third oldest sister is a vocalist, plays the piano. She played the clarinet all the time. So for me, you know, I just wanted to try to do everything they did. So, you know, I fooled around on the piano. I have a saxophone at home. There’s a flute flaying around. You know, there’s a bass guitar, electric guitar. My son broke my electric guitar. He actually broke it in half, so I got to get a new one. I had an acoustic guitar, gave it away to a friend at UVA as a keepsake, but, yeah, just making sure that I kind of keep that around. I like my kids to be able to pass that down as well, so I think it’s important.”


You weren’t, like, playing at halftime in high school or anything, were you?

“Oh, at halftime, no. But I’ve sung at multiple different, you know, singing for national anthems, singing at a lot of different solos and different concerts. Even going into college, I had a lot of different solos, a couple of different solos at UVA. I was in a couple of different courses there. I went on tour in London to sing with the acapella group at UVA as well, called the Hullabahoos. Great time, great guys. Once I got to UC, they actually have a pretty well-acclaimed music program called CCM. So, I sang through there and all their courses till I graduated. Then this last year it’s pretty much just been a ball.”


So you’re gonna be the star of the rookie show?

“If you need me to bust a few notes, then gladly.”

What did you do in track?

Oh, I was shot [put] and discus. High hurdles sometimes [laughing].”


How’d you do?

“I was a state placer for disc. Shot was pretty good. I couldn’t pr in the right time, so got like a 52 at like a random didn’t matter meet basically. But then once it got time for state qualifiers, I threw like a 49-six or something crazy. Obviously not the best outcome. But for discus, I was able to throw that thing out there pretty far and end up placing in state. It’s pretty nice.”


Is there a player, current performer that, like, you really love, looked up to and did you feel like you’ve – don’t say the next – but, like, you modeled your game after?

“So one thing I will say, I was never the guy. I liked watching football holistically, you know, watching everything, even as a young guy. So there was never like a team or player. I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, I want to be that.’ But one guy, I can’t say that always popped out. And one guy I’ll look up YouTube highlights of was always Ndamukong Suh. Just seeing, you know, his aggression towards the game and, you know, his intensity and even technique and just being able to affect the game as a big guy is something that, you know, I tell you, I take a lot of pride in watching him, Fletcher Cox. I mean, even our guys now, like Grady Jarrett, being able to watch guys in my position do things at the high level.”


I’m guessing you haven’t been in many locker rooms with those other guys who are married and have kids? I mean, I know you’re not the old guy, but do you ever just feel like the old guy in those college locker rooms and even just around here this weekend?

“Yeah. So, I mean, shoot, you know I’m only 22, but I had my three kids when I was 21, so a lot of guys used to say, ‘Oh, Uncle Briggs. Oh, Unc’s coming.’ Meanwhile, some of these guys are three years older than me in college, so I think it’ll be refreshing being the young guy again. So, we’ll see what’s happening.”


Do you have a college teammate at either place who was married?

“Married at UVA? There were a couple. At UC? I don’t think so. Not at least when I was there. They might be married now.”


With obviously starting a family, you switched schools, but you also graduated. When did you get your degree? What’s it in?

“Yes, I was a double major in physics and music at UVA. Also, I did some computer science stuff there. So, you know, once I transferred, it was really iffy because the portal just opened up. So I transferred it, and my academic advisor basically said, you know, you’ll have to add two extra years to your program or you could switch to interdisciplinary studies, graduated early, so switched to that. Graduated earlier than she thought. I actually graduated in, I think, three years, so I had to graduate December 2022, got in college in 2019, so graduated with my undergrad. Then I got a grad certificate in software development. I would gladly go back and get more grad certificates, but the way – mind you, I said, I like to be prepared. So, you know, the way jobs line up and qualifications line up, me going and doing that will pretty much be the same level of getting a master’s in computer science or computer engineering because you got to do the same things. So, I feel like it’ll give me more job flexibility being able to go back and get something say, like a graduate certificate in cybersecurity or graduate, because mine is in software development, maybe a grad certificate in just general computer engineering. So just making sure to, you know, put my hand in every basket I can when I get that going back.”


To the singing aspect and your sisters being in that world as well. But, like, when you were younger, how did you figure out that you had that talent as well?

“Yeah. So, I’m complaining about my house – my parents, I mean, our house was like a cacophony of noise all the time. We were making bands in the basement. My sisters are upstairs playing instruments, practicing together, because a lot of them were in school together. We’re so close. All of us are like, at most – two and a half, three years apart. Some of us are like one and a half. So they were in the same orchestras, in the same choir. So, they’re singing, practicing their parts, playing their instruments together. So it was a lot of noise. So, I mean, it was pretty natural for me to just, you know, hop in and see what I can do. And, you know, they’ll yell at me, tell me, stop, you don’t sound right. I go to school and get into it and learn, then I sound perfect with them, so it was just a matter of learning it from them.”


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