A lot of people could not believe the New England Patriots took guard Cole Strange out of UT-Chattanooga with the No. 29 overall pick, including Strange himself. The 23-year-old was so surprised he was picked when he was that he had to double check that it was real.
When he got the call from the team, he wondered if it was just one of his friends pulling a prank on him.
Strange’s dad, Greg, described the moment to Masslive.com:
“(Cole) said, ‘Sir, I don’t mean to be disrespectful at all, but I’ve gotta know because I’ve got some crazy friends. Is this a prank?'”
The person on the phone said, “Hold on just a second,” and put head coach Bill Belichick on the line. Hearing the future Hall of Fame coach, who has a distinct voice, convinced Strange this was actually the Patriots calling him. This was no prank: Cole was the newest member of the Patriots.
Strange was with his dad watching the draft from Lenoir City, Tennessee and waiting for his name to be called. The duo just did not think it would be called that early.
“As soon as I heard Bill Belichick’s voice, Cole and I both started screaming and hugging and acting crazy,” his dad said. “Probably saying a bunch of inappropriate stuff. We were so excited. To his credit, you’ve gotta love the guy, Belichick is sitting there and when we got through, the first break he had, he said, ‘Hey Cole, you’ve gotta act like you’ve been there, man.’ It was classic to us. We absolutely loved it.”
While many were surprised at the pick, Belichick defended the selection, complimenting the newest member of the squad.
“Yeah, I mean, we feel like that was a good — a guy that fits well — Cole fits well into our team and our system, and obviously think he’s a good player. It’s a composite of work with any player, so whatever opportunities you have to evaluate him, you evaluate him. … We took the best option that we had, whether it was at 21 or 29 — whatever it ended up being, 29,” he said. “At those two points, we felt like we made the best choice that we could. … He wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”
Strange wasted no time making himself at home in Foxboro, talking to quarterback Mac Jones right after he arrived at Gillette Stadium to set up dinner plans with the offensive leader.