Cole Strange was not expected to be a first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, so even he was surprised to learn the New England Patriots drafted him with the No. 29 pick.
The former UT-Chattanooga offensive lineman watched the draft at home in Lenoir City, Tenn. with his father, Greg. When Cole received a phone call, and the person on the other end said they were from the Patriots he was skeptical, until a familiar voice was handed the phone.
“(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,’ ” Greg told MassLive’s Chris Mason. “The guy said, ‘Hold on just a second.’ And then Bill Belichick got on the phone, and of course, unless you?ve been under a rock for the last 20 years, you know Bill Belichick?s voice.
“As soon as I heard Bill Belichick’s voice, Cole and I both started screaming and hugging and acting crazy. 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.”
Cole was set to head to Foxborough and has already made a good impression during rookie minicamp and the Patriots’ first practices. Strange will hope to earn the favor of Belichick and the coaching staff if the rookie is looking to earn significant playing time in New England.