Sunday, May 18, 2008
By Pete Mollica
The former Ohio State lineman is learning to play linebacker.
NILES — Ohio State’s defensive end Vernon Gholston smiled when asked if he gave up his senior season with the Buckeyes to join the NFL because he didn’t want to face Youngstown State again.
“You got me, that was the reason,” laughed Gholston, whose former team will play YSU in the opener for the second straight year. “Hey, those guys gave us a pretty good game last year. I know I was surprised.”
The real reason, of course, is that Gholston was projected as a high first round draft pick, eventually getting taken No. 6 overall by the New York Jets.
Gholston (6-4, 264), who has been projected as an outside linebacker in the pros, has just returned from the Jets rookie mini-camp and he was impressed.
“It was a fun time being with all the other rookies who were making their first start in the pros,” he said. “It was a chance to get a feel for the new system and if went off very well.
“Football is still football, but now you know that it is moving on to a whole different level no matter whether it’s the New York Jets or any other NFL team,” Gholston said. “You just have to go out there and do your stuff, work hard and try and adjust to the new system.”
Gholston was a two-year starter with the Buckeyes at defensive end and last season set a new Buckeyes record for quarterback sacks in a season with 14. He finished his career with 221‚Ñ2 sacks over his final two seasons and was named All-America this past year.
Gholston didn’t start playing football until he was a junior at Detroit’s Cass Tech High and earned All-State honors his senior season.
He feels the Buckeyes’ program was what helped him become a first-rounder.
“The program, the level of competition and the coaching really made a difference with my progress in the game,” he said.
Gholston looks forward to becoming an outside linebacker in the pros.
“There is definitely some differences between playing end and linebacker, but the Jets knew that when they selected me,” Gholston said. “It really comes down to them looking for somebody with the versatility and the athleticism to play that role.
“The tough part is the mental side of the game, knowing what and where you need to be in different situations and that’s the part I’ll have to work on the most.”
Playing every week before 100,000-plus fans at Ohio State was something that Gholston said helped get him ready for the pros. And playing for head coach Jim Tressel was another.
“He definitely played a major role in my coming to Ohio State,” Gholston said. “You just know that the coaching there trickles down from the head coach and he was so impressive when I was being recruited. Playing for the Buckeyes and Coach Tressel will be something that I’ll always remember and treasure as one of my life’s greatest experiences.”