Vernon Gholston wasn't in Hempstead long before he took his first test. He was asked this morning by his new boss to identify each of his teammates by name.
"I knew most of the guys' faces and I knew their names through pictures, but to be here and actually see them is a little different," said Gholston, the outside linebacker who was the No. 6 overall selection in April's draft. "To see guys in person as opposed to on the pictures — you're not quite sure."
Gholston said he did "OK" on the first exam given to him by head coach Eric Mangini. The former Ohio State standout should expect plenty more in the near future as he attempts to play catchup. Due to the NFL rule that prevents rookies from joining their teams until the time of their school's graduation, Gholston wasn't allowed to practice with the full Jets squad until today.
"I got a lot of catching up to do. The first time I walked in there, I barely knew any guys and I had to name them all," he said. "I'm just trying to get adjusted to the guys and to what's going on. There is a big learning curve, but that's what comes with the job."
During the morning, reporters saw a lot of Gholston with his helmet off. Linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, who also assisted No. 56 after practice, tutored his young protégé throughout the two-hour camp session.
"He didn't look totally lost," Mangini said. "Like the first few times I drove home to Garden City, I was on the right main street — I just missed my street to the house. It was that kind of thing. He was on the right road, he just missed a couple of turnoffs."
While the Jets conducted their OTAs in Hempstead, Gholston worked out in Columbus, Ohio, took care of some living concerns and studied his new playbook.
"It all depended on what was going on," he said of his time allocation. "A lot of it was me just handling my off-the-field concerns and issues, closing my apartment up there, trying to find a place to live down here and taking care of different situations. Some days I was up in New Jersey looking for a place and other days I was in Columbus, so it varied."
While Gholston eventually purchased a home in New Jersey, his coach wasn't willing to give him too much slack.
"It's not his fault that he couldn't be here, but it's not like he was getting his master's. He had plenty of free time in between 'Judge Judy' and 'Days of Our Lives' or whatever is on during daytime. You can study," he said after some reflection. "There are some hours in the day regardless of how many curls you are going to do."
Blessed with great speed for a 6'4", 258-pounder, Gholston will need some time before his body will catch up with his mind.
"I knew from the beginning that the playbook was going to be thick and all the adjustments, and it's also a new position for me," he said. "With that being said, I expected it but at the same time I'm kind of overwhelmed with it."
One thing that jumps out about Gholston is his size. He's a thick defender who's going to cover a lot of shadow in pads.
"He's a big dude. This is my first time seeing him in person and he's living up to that 'Goliath' stuff they said," said S Kerry Rhodes. "Now we've got to get him to make the right decisions on the field and help us get better. We're going to need him."
"It's good to have someone on defense with comparable arms to Thomas Jones, so they can go head-to-head in the weightroom," added Mangini. "We'll see what that looks like, but he's going to have to roll up his sleeves like Thomas does."
Before he departed his brief midday media session with reporters, Gholston provided proper perspective.
"I was the Jets' first pick," he said, "and coming back from a long layoff, I expected a lot to be thrown at me."