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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Ryan on Gholston: 'I believe in the young man'

Posted by's Tim Graham

DANA POINT, Calif. -- One of the most incredible stats from last season: Prized New York Jets pass rusher Vernon Gholston, the sixth pick in the draft, recorded one solo tackle.

Of the 23 Jets who made a tackle, Gholston finished with the fewest. He also had four assists, giving him a grand total of five tackles. He, of course, had zero sacks.

While a single season is too soon to label any player a bust, Jets fans certainly are cynical about Gholston.

Jets coach Rex Ryan, however, isn't afraid to bang Gholston's drum.

"For whatever reason, the young man maybe never played up to expectations, but there's a reason that he was taken as high as he was," Ryan said over breakfast Tuesday morning at the NFL owners' meeting at the St. Regis Hotel.

"I believe in the young man. I think you're going to see this kid really come into his own this year."

Perhaps Ryan can figure out a way to unlock Gholston's potential and save him from becoming known as another Mike Mamula, a scouting combine phenom who looked good in a tank top but couldn't perform on Sundays.

Ryan previously spent 10 seasons on the Baltimore Ravens' staff, helping to mold them into one of the NFL's elite defenses.

"The thing I've really been impressed with about Vernon is that he's been there almost every day," Ryan said. "When nobody else was in the building, he was in there, lifting weights and everything else.

"He's ready to come out and, believe me, it's in there. We all know it's in there. But it's my job to get this guy playing at a high level by any means necessary, and that's what we're going to do."

Gholston, listed at 6-foot-3 and 264 pounds, left Ohio State after his junior season, when he set a Buckeyes record with 14 sacks.

"It's just a matter of letting him know what we expect of him and letting him roll," Ryan said. "All I want is everything he's got. That's all I want. Nothing more.

"It's funny because I heard the same things about [Ravens defensive tackle] Haloti Ngata when he came out of college, that he took plays off and things like that. I don't hear anyone saying that now."