Stephanie Storm

KENT: With the stress of the NFL Draft nearly 24 hours behind him, Brian Winters finally came out of hiding Saturday.

A day after holing up in a Cleveland hotel until he was selected by the New York Jets in the third round (72nd overall) of the NFL Draft, Kent State’s former left tackle showed up on the sideline at Dix Stadium during the first half of the KSU spring game.

“I was just trying to take it all in,” Winters said of going into hibernation mode. “I was a little nervous coming out of the second round, obviously. My nerves were going and then I got a call from a New Jersey number and it lifted a weight off my shoulders.

“[Coach] Rex Ryan called me and was like, ‘We want you to be our guy playing left guard with the tenacity you played with at Kent State. We want this to continue and we want you to be our guy.’?”

When he spoke with the Jets’ owners, Winters said he was asked a peculiar question.

“They asked me, ‘what quarterback do you feel should start?’?” Winters said. “I asked, ‘Which one? There’s six of them!’?”

Winters, who will report to New York on May 9, went with the politically correct answer.

“I said, ‘They’re all good, it just depends on the scheme.’ It was pretty funny. It was an out-there question, but I had to answer it. It shocked me they asked me because I have no say in it,” Winters said.

Winters said his parents understood and respected his decision to only allow his girlfriend, Kathy Krupa, to be present with him during his stay at the downtown Cleveland Residence Inn.

“It was just me and my girlfriend in the room hanging out, waiting for the call,” he said. “I was just trying to keep my mind off it as much I could. I didn’t want any noise or distraction around me. I just knew the second day I wanted to be alone and not near anybody. I felt it was the right way to handle it. I didn’t want any extra stress on top of me during the process.”

After the call, Winters’ family drove from Hudson to Cleveland to join them at the Corner Alley bowling alley to relax and enjoy some family fun.

KSU coach Paul Haynes, who was watching the draft on TV when Winters was chosen, said it’s another NFL product to add the list of former Flashes who’ve gone pro.

“It’s very exciting for Brian, for his family and for our program,” Haynes said. “You talk about in recruiting guys going to the NFL, and we still got ‘em. We still got one every year going to the league.”