Bernie Kosar optimistic about Cleveland Browns future: Greater Cleveland Sports Awards (photos)

January 18, 2018 GMT

Bernie Kosar optimistic about Cleveland Browns future: Greater Cleveland Sports Awards (photos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Despite a winless season that produced a parade of shame, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar is optimistic when it comes to the future of the Browns.

And that future starts in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft where the Browns have four of the first 35 picks (No. 1, 4, 33 and 35).

“Having those picks and the growth of some of our younger guys leads me to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Kosar said prior to Wednesday’s 18th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

And Kosar especially sees the light because of the Browns’ recent hire of Alonzo Highsmith as vice president of player personnel. Highsmith was an executive with the Green Bay Packers from 2012-17. Koser and Highsmith were teammates at the University of Miami.

“Alonzo has done a phenomenal job throughout his career,” Kosar said. “This is going to be a telling year here because of all of the cap space and the top picks we have in the draft.”

The Browns have many possible choices when it comes to the draft. Will they choose the best player in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or the best defensive player in Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick?

The quarterback position remains in focus with several possible picks in USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. But Kosar pauses when it comes to picking a QB early.

“It depends on how their meetings (with the top quarterbacks) go and which free agent quarterbacks are available,” Kosar said. “Who you sign in free agency sometimes has an impact on which guys you draft. There’s more than a handful of quarterbacks worthy to pick in the first or second round. Many teams like depth at the QB position, and the Browns have enough picks to add one.”

Awards presented on Wednesday included:

Male High School Athlete of the Year

Joey Baughman, Wadsworth High School, Football: Baughman was named 2017 Ohio Mr. Football. He threw for 3,079 yards and 36 touchdowns while rushing for 1,523 yards with 20 touchdowns. Baughman led Wadsworth to an undefeated regular season and a Suburban League Championship.

Female High School Athletes of the Year

Shannon Williams, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Volleyball: Williams was named the Gatorade Ohio Volleyball Player of the Year in 2016, after leading Brecksville-Broadview Heights to a Division I state championship. In 2017, Williams led the Bees to a District Championship and regional semi-finalist with her averages of 13 assists per set, 1069 assists, 20 aces, 226 digs and 96 kills for this season.

Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year

Reggie Jagers III, Kent State, Track and Field: Jagers is a five time All-American, World University Discuss Champion and Jr. Pan-American Bronze Medalist. Jagers owns the Kent State discus record at 197 feet, 5 inches and is the first All-American in the men’s discus in Kent State’s program history. In addition, Jagers is a two-time Olympic and USA Trials Contender.

Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year

Hallie Thome, University of Michigan, Basketball, Chagrin Falls: Thome was named All-Big Ten first team, Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Player of the Week. As the third sophomore in Michigan program history to reach 1,000 points, Thome also holds titles as former Ohio Ms. Basketball and Gatorade State Player of the Year.

Professional Athlete of the Year

Pitcher Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians: Kluber led MLB with a 2.25 ERA in 2017 and with five complete games and three shutouts, winning the American League Cy Young Award. He also led the league in wins (18-4). In 2016, he was named the American League Sporting News Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Best Moment

Cleveland Indians 22-game win streak - an American League record.

Courage Award

Samer Babi is a senior captain of North Olmsted High School’s football team. It was discovered the day before his prom, that he had had Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a type of cancer that forms in the connective tissues. Babi is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. He attends school as often as possible and has hopes of majoring in finance and playing rugby in college.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas IIlgauskas for his NBA career and commitment to the community. The award is given to a person who through their personal dedication and achievements has advanced sports in Cleveland.

Gold Medalist Award

Quicken Loans Arena for providing guidance and support through hosting championship events with Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.