Gholston Wows 'Em Again

Those who thought Vernon Gholston had done all he needed to do to boost his draft status at February's NFL Combine had another thing coming Friday as Gholston topped his 40-yard dash time and vertical jump in front of NFL scouts at Ohio State's Pro Day, perhaps cementing his status as a top-10 draft pick in April.

The motto of the 2007 Ohio State football defense was "never satisfied." It appears that Vernon Gholston took that message to heart.

Even after he shot up draft boards with a standout performance in Indianapolis in late February at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gholston had no inklings to rest on his laurels. Instead he stepped onto the field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Friday afternoon and ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.5-second range and posted a vertical leap of 42 inches while also competing in position drills for the scouts in attendance.

So even after Gholston took fourth in the 40 for defensive linemen in Indianapolis with a time of 4.67 seconds, tied for the top mark at the event overall with 37 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press and had the highest vertical jump for a defensive lineman at 35.5 feet, he came back for OSU's Pro Day looking to top even those lofty numbers and then did so with flying colors.

"I've been working, constantly trying to get better," Gholston said. "A lot of people said I did well at the combine but I came back here and got right back to work and worked on my drills. I was trying to improve my 40. As long as you're working, you expect good things to happen."

Gholston's impressive performance came even while battling through adversity. The Detroit native tweaked his hamstring Monday and then felt the same muscle tightening up during his 40-yard dash Friday, but still gutted it out to finish with a time that would have landed him in the top three of DL at Indianapolis. He also made sure to run the race on FieldTurf rather than AstroTurf to prove his time would not be a fluke.

In other words, all signs pointed to Gholston having the urge to prove himself yet again.

"A lot of my times I saw (from the combine) were around the 4.6 range and I know I'm not in that range," he said. "4.5 is more what I am so I wanted to push for it, go out there and show I can do it."

That's been a constant theme in the career of Gholston. He started playing football as a sophomore at Detroit's Cass Technical High School and came to OSU as a raw, talented, chiseled specimen. He played sparingly as a freshman before sitting out the 2005 season because of injury. He made his name for himself as a sophomore in 2006, making 49 tackles and 7.5 sacks, then finished with a school-record 14 sacks in 2007 before becoming the lone Buckeye junior to leave school early for the draft.

The competitive nature that fueled Gholston to become such a dominant player at the college level is the same fire that had him back on the field Friday.

"I'm one of those people that when I get into something, I'm fully into it and I'm not holding back," Gholston said. "I want to be one of the best, and that's just a testament to the work that I've put in."

A quick look at Gholston would not result in a person immediately pegging the defensive end as someone who does boast that passion. He developed a reputation at Ohio State as a contemplative sort who was never bubbling over on the surface with emotion like some others. His former defensive coordinator, Jim Heacock, said that is because much of his fire burns within.

"He's a very competitive person," Heacock said Friday. "That's why he wants to do the drills and run again, because he's not satisfied with how he did even though everyone else thought it was excellent. In his mind it wasn't as good as he could do so he wanted to do more. A lot of things are internal and he knows what he wants to do."

So even as he skyrockets in the draft – Scout analyst Chris Steuber has him going No. 2 overall to St. Louis and ESPN's Mel Kiper has him as his sixth best player – Gholston is not satisfied yet.

"As high as I can go, that's what I'm hoping for," he said. "I hope to get with a good team, a good organization and win championships."

Whichever team does select Gholston will be getting a player who improves at football on a regular basis as he learns the ins and outs of the game.

"He's got a lot of upside," Heacock said. "I think he came into his own this year toward the end of the year and he started playing much better, but I think he's got a lot of upside. I really do. I think he's going to get better and better."

When it comes to what position Gholston might play at the next level, he said he didn't mind if he ends up staying at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or moving to outside linebacker in a 3-4. Such a move to the latter scheme has been rumored to be in Gholston's future depending on which teams selects him.

"Whatever a team wants to make me," he said.

Gholston will continue to meet with teams individually, working out with Miami and the New York Jets on Monday, and said he will consider an invitation to show up at the actual draft itself in New York should it come.

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