Eric Mangini, who hinted Thursday "there might be a Vernon Gholston sighting here in the near future," officially announced the signing of Gholston early this afternoon.
"It's great to get it done — it's great for him and it's great for us," said the Jets' head coach. "From a coaching and a player perspective, you want to get as much time [with him] as possible and as much work done as possible."
After missing a pair of full team practices, Gholston joined his Jets teammates for the team's third training camp workout. He stood up and rushed frequently, occasionally dropped down on the line and periodically backpedaled into coverage.
"I'm definitely a step behind," he said. "I missed practice yesterday because I haven't been up here, but it's just something you have to deal with. I'll do some extra studying tonight and keep pushing."
The Jets selected Gholston, a standout defender from The Ohio State University, with the sixth overall selection in April's NFL Draft. Gholston, who played both defensive end and the hybrid "Leo" position for the Buckeyes, set a school record in 2007 with 14 sacks, was an All-America choice by The Associated Press and was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year by the conference's coaches. In 34 games at OSU, Gholston produced 22.5 sacks.
"I don't really have too many big expectations right now — obviously I don't even know what's going on half the time on the field," he said. "I'm just a guy willing to go out there and play hard and once I get everything under my belt, then hopefully I can go out there and contribute to the team."
Last summer, Darrelle Revis missed all of training camp after the Pitt corner was selected 14th overall by the Green & White. Despite the three-week absence, Revis started all 16 games at cornerback and was a consensus All-Rookie performer.
But it was critical for the Jets to get Gholston to Hofstra as soon as possible because he wasn't permitted to attend most of the club's spring action on the field. Due to NFL and NCAA rules, rookies can't participate with their teams until their class graduates or they finish their finals and are granted permission from the school. Most of the '08 Rookie Class also reported for camp along with quarterbacks and injured players on July 16. Mangini indicated that Gholston will have plenty of installations to catch up on.
"Some things aren't going to make sense right away," he said. "It's a building process and the quicker you can start, the better."
Gholston is expected to line up at outside linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 front. Calvin Pace, a free agent addition in the spring who is coming off a career year with the Arizona Cardinals, figures to start on one side while Gholston will challenge veteran 'backer Bryan Thomas on the other.
If Gholston doesn't start on opening day at Miami, he will be used in sub packages as the Jets look to bring pressure on opposition quarterbacks. The Jets finished with 29 sacks a year ago, ranking 25th in the league.
Mangini knows Gholston needs help to get him up to speed and has promised that he'll get "plenty of extra isolated coaching to help him." That on-field instruction has begun as the Jets completed a complex deal with Gholston's agents, Tom Condon and Ben Dogra.
"The contract was extraordinarily long and complicated. Jackie Davidson [manager, football administration] and Ari Nissim [director, football administration] did a great job, and to get it on paper took a tremendous amount of time and effort," said general manager Mike Tannenbaum. "But he's here and he's here because they've worked at it and we've worked at it. I think we got a good landing spot and to sign him without the pick above him or below him being signed is a tribute to both sides."
Tannenbaum was referring to Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City's fifth overall pick, and Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans' No. 7 pick, both of whom are defensive tackles and both of whom remained unsigned as of this afternoon.