Gholston Logs Sack, Interception Against BG

Ohio State sophomore defensive end Vernon Gholston came up big in Saturday's win over Bowling Green. Gholston had a key quarterback sack and also his first career interception as the Buckeyes downed BG 35-7. Click here for more on Gholston.

Just three plays deep into the second quarter Saturday against Bowling Green, Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston watched as an Anthony Turner pass deflected off the outstretched hand of his intended receiver. The ball hung high in the air.

Usually at this point through the course of five games, Ohio State fans have grown accustomed to seeing such a pass fall harmlessly into the hands of linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Instead, the gratuitous recipient was Gholston, a 6-4, 260-pound sophomore. Turner's pass went off the fingertips of his receiver and into Gholston's arms at the 29-yard line.

"The coaches don't expect me to get a pick anyway," said Gholston on whether he thought he may drop the pass, "but I was coming up with that ball."

He took the pass and returned it 8 yards to the Bowling Green 21-yard line.

The interception was Gholston's first. He also had four tackles, including two for loss and another sack – giving him 4-1/2 on the season. His sack was a key play as he dragged Turner down on the final play of the first half before he could get off a possible Hail Mary pass.

Gholston was dropping into a zone as part of Ohio State's zone-blitz package. It's a similar role that past Ohio State players Will Smith, Bobby Carpenter and Mike Kudla have shared.

"Vern was just commenting the other day about it," said Laurinaitis. "He said, ‘I hope I get an interception at that Leo position where I drop into coverage because Will Smith hadn't got one and Kudla hadn't got one.' "

Usually, Gholston is using his brute strength to terrorize opposing offensive lineman and manhandling rag-doll quarterbacks.

But Gholston, who now has 24 tackles, including nine for loss, got a chance to show off his ball skills and moves (or lack thereof) in the open field.

"I always tell my guys if I get one (an interception) that I'm taking it to the house," he said half-joking and half-serious. "I'm kind of mad that I didn't, but I'm just glad that I got the interception."

Laurinaitis wasn't sure if Gholston had the moves to take it to the house.

"I don't know – Vernon might not have the moves but he definitely has the size," Laurinaitis added. "He'll run right over you. If he has the ball I'm getting out of his way – he's a big boy."

The sophomore from Cass Tech High School in Detroit has become one of the most valuable players on the Ohio State defense.

Combined with great size, strength and athleticism, Gholson has been one of the most disruptive linemen in the Big Ten.

"Vernon is probably consistently playing as good as anybody on our defense," said defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. "He's gone beyond my expectations. He seems to continue to improve and I think he's going to be a great player."

Although the zone-blitz package that sent Gholston dropping back into coverage may seem like a first-time thing this season, it was not. Ohio State has been using the zone blitz all season and Gholston has been in pass coverage several times.

Only now did he reap the benefits.

"I've always been dropping but you don't really notice until you get your hands on the ball," Gholston said.

His emergence as Ohio State's starting end began this past spring.

When all the talk was on the future of another promising player, Lawrence Wilson, it was Gholston that took his game to another level both in spring practice and this fall leading up to the season.

"He came in this spring and just surprised everybody in spring ball and stepped up," Heacock added. "It seems like every scrimmage we had in spring he made plays."

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