For Yodny Cajuste, it felt like the 2019 NFL Draft was nearly over. Pick after pick was ticking past and his phone had not rung. Then, with the No. 101 pick on the board, he received a call from a famous football zip code.
Bill Belichick was on the other line, and Cajuste — an offensive tackle out of West Virginia — was the newest member of the New England Patriots.
“I’m like, ‘This can’t be,'” Cajuste recalled in a video shared by the team.
But it was.
"It's a privilege to be a part of this organization."
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) May 3, 2019
Four of the Patriots picks who received those calls — Cajuste, Joejuan Williams, Chase Winovich, and Damien Harris — shared their emotional reactions when the Foxborough phone number appeared.
Here’s how the future Patriots reacted:
Joejuan Williams, cornerback
My initial reaction was that someone was playing with me, because I was looking at the ticker and it said the Patriots didn’t have another pick for five more picks. So I was like, ‘Why is a Foxborough number calling me?’ I was on the phone and they said, ‘Hold on. We’re going to trade up.’ Two seconds later I looked and saw the Patriots are trading up. I was like, ‘This is real.'”
Chase Winovich, defensive end
The moment I kind of forgot about the draft and everything was the moment my phone started ringing. I looked at the area code and saw it was Massachusetts.
My face was gleaming ear-to-ear.
Receiving that phone call and realizing that one of the greatest football coaches of all time believed in me enough to choose me with a pick that early was really something that was just so special. At that moment, I immediately started thinking, ‘When can we get to work?’ Let’s do this thing.
I’m so grateful to be a New England Patriot. I’m fired up. I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait to see where this journey will take me.
Damien Harris, running back
It’s just one of those surreal moments. When my name got called on the TV, a lot of emotions ran through my head. Thankfulness. Just thinking about everything that it took for me to get here.
The two-minute conversation I had with coach Belichick on the phone sounded very much like if I was on the phone with [Alabama] coach [Nick] Saban. Everybody knows their relationship, everybody knows they’re very similar in their demeanors, their coaching styles. They’re both about business and winning.
It’s an incredible honor. It’s a privilege to be a part of this organization. I’m very thankful Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick believe in me and gave me an opportunity to play for this great organization.
Yodny Cajuste, offensive tackle
As pick by pick went, I was kind of like, ‘When’s my name gonna get called? When’s my name gonna get called?’ And then the draft’s nearly over, and all of a sudden I look at my phone and it says Foxborough, MA. I’m like, ‘This can’t be.’
I’m a Patriot so red, white, and blue. My high school mascot were the Patriots. I was like, ‘Man, I’m about to be a Patriot. I’m talking to Bill Belichick, the greatest coach ever. I’m about to be a Patriot. Now it’s time to get to business.