Buzz: Gholston Finds a Mentor

lt.jpgWhen the Jets selected Vernon Gholston, many had visions of him knocking around Quarterbacks like rag dolls just like he did in college starting Week 1. So far for Gholston, it’s been a tough transition to the pros. Some media and even commenters here on this blog are talking about him as a disappointment and bust already, not even half way into his first season. Our argument is that he’s always been a project. Gholston came out of college early, he’s transitioning into a new role, and the fact that he never played football until he was a sophomore in high school.

Gholston, clearly feeling the desire to get better and contribute might have allowed his marketing agent to set up one of the best meetings of his life, meeting about creating a mentoring relationship with the league’s most renowned 3-4 OLB, Lawrence Taylor.

“He reached out to me and I’ve never really had the time to do anything like this but after I met him, I really like the kid,” Taylor said Sunday morning from, of course, a golf course in Florida.

“He’s a good kid and he wants to bust his butt and really understand this defense. After I met him I decided I’d help him … I really need to watch him on film to see what he’s doing out there and I plan to do that,” said Taylor, who also plans to go as far as physically working with his new protege in Florida after the season. “You can see he has all the physical tools, that’s obvious. There are other things I’ll help him out with.”

This is the first time since Taylor retired has agreed to get so involved in the career of a young pass rusher. He was lukewarm on the idea at best, that is until he met Gholston. Once the two starting talking shop, Taylor decided to give the tutoring biz a shot this one time.

As far as how their initial lesson progressed, Taylor drove home several points but two in particular stood out.

“One of the things I told him is If you are going to mess up, mess up going full speed 100 percent,” said the living legend. “We all mess up but just making sure when you do you are going all out.”

Lesson No. 2?

“I told him in that scheme you need to know what everyone else around you is doing as well or even better than what you have to do,” he said. “That’s one thing I really tried to emphasize. When I played I knew exactly where Harry (Carson) and Carl (Banks), the linemen, the DB’s – I knew what everyone was doing. When you get that down and you know where everyone around you is going to be on each play that puts you in a better position.

“If you know exactly what everyone is doing, it takes a lot of the thinking out of it and you can use your physical tools a lot better.”

Taylor nailed the two of the biggest issues that face Gholston.His tendency towards reservation in this new role, and his knowledge of the system his own and his teammates responsibilities.

Having someone like Lawrence Taylor work with him I hope will give him a taste of that “wild dog” mentality that seems to be lacking … I’m not saying that Gholston should imitate Taylor, but he does need some more fire.

Gholston is no dope, he’s a smart young man who will do the bookwork it takes to get better. Watching him some in the preseason, he knows when he’s blown assignments immediately, and he’s learning from his mistakes. Although there were no stats to show for it, I was proud of the way I saw him setting the edge on a number of occasions, allowing other players to make stops in the run … that’s good progress from where he was in the preseason already.

I’m not saying that Gholston still won’t be a bust or a disappointment, but players like Gaines Adams, Shawne Merriman and even the Jets own Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas took time to develop … they weren’t built in a day. With the help of the Jets coaches as well as someone like Lawrence Taylor, it’s clear that Gholston wants to get better and contribute more to this team and he’s taking steps to ensure that happens, which is part of the reason why the Jets picked him in the first place.