May 11, 2014
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University fullback Ray Agnew is the newest member of the Cleveland Browns, signing a free-agent contract with the National Football League team following this weekend's annual draft.
Agnew played in all 45 games for the Salukis during his four-year career and was the lead blocker for his younger brother, Malcolm, who gained 888 yards last season. He only caught eight passes during his career at SIU, but it was his pass-catching ability at his Pro Day and during the week of practicing leading up to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January that caught the Browns' eye.
"They liked the way I showed I can catch the ball and plan on using me as a versatile fullback who can block and catch," Agnew said.
The Browns have a new coaching staff, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is installing a power running game behind free-agent running back Ben Tate and fourth-round draft pick Terrance West of Towson State. Cleveland has two fullbacks -- Chris Ogbonnaya and Chris Pressley -- currently on the roster.
According to Agnew, Browns' general manager Ray Farmer and members of the scouting staff kept in close contact with Agnew's agent heading into the draft. Cleveland was the first team to call him when the draft ended.
"I felt like that was where I was supposed to be," said Agnew, who spoke to about 10 teams before the draft. "I had some good conversations about fitting into Cleveland's offense."
Agnew arrived in Cleveland today and has already met the rest of the team's rookie class, including quarterback Johnny Manziel, who achieved celebrity status at Texas A&M and was the team's first-round pick.
"It's going to be exciting playing with someone like Johnny Manziel and the excitement he brings to the field," Agnew said. "We're all just rookies here trying to make our way and work our hardest to get on field. He was picked in the first round, so he's got nothing to worry about. As an undrafted player, I have to work that much harder to make the team, but I have every confidence in the world I can make it, and I'll do whatever it takes."