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MINICAMP 2008: Meet The Rookies

By Doug Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
May 2nd, 2008
Top draft pick DE Vernon Gholston meets with the NY media on the first day of Rookie Minicamp on Friday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Top draft pick DE Vernon Gholston meets with the NY media on the first day of Rookie Minicamp on Friday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Less than one week after the New York Jets wrapped up their selections in the NFL Draft, it was time for the team’s rookies to put on the pads for the first time at the next level. From the Jets’ new prized possession, sixth overall pick Vernon Gholston, to the assortment of undrafted free agents, the day would surely be a learning experience. But before stepping onto the Jets’ practice field at Hofstra University, the players met with the media.

Center of attention was Gholston, who arrives in New York as one who the Jets hope can cause nightmares for opposing quarterbacks for years to come. Before donning his number 56 practice jersey, Gholston discussed his expectations heading into the rookie minicamp.

“Just to make the team at this point,” he said. “I’m a rookie and some say I was the first pick, but I still have got to put my work in.”

Making the roster is something Gholston surely will not have to worry about as he expects to use this weekend as a learning experience.

“We’re all rookies and some guys are fighting to make the team, so the biggest thing is just to learn and grow and take everything you can from it," Gholston said.

Besides making a lasting impression on the coaching staff and learning the system, what is Gholston’s main goal as he proceeds into camp?: “Just to help the team,” he said. “I’m all about the team and I’m a team player. If we’re all doing good then I’ll consider myself doing well.”

Along with Gholston, the Jets’ other first-round pick (30th overall), former Purdue tight end Dustin Keller, discussed the camp ahead while surrounded by reporters. Keller, who will be wearing number 81 this season, believes that “There’s no doubt in my mind,” that he can succeed at the next level. Despite leaving the college ranks for the bright lights of the NFL, Keller insisted that he does not feel overwhelmed when stepping onto the field.

“The coaches get so prepared and we go over everything and it's just repetition over and over, so many meetings,” he said.

Keller, who was recruited to Purdue as a wide receiver and has been criticized for his inability to block, could be lined up as a slot receiver, similar to what the Colts do with tight end Dallas Clark. As far as playing multiple positions, Keller admitted that the coaching staff has spoken to him about such plans.

“I know they want me to play some tight end. It’s just something we’ll see when the season comes around,” he said.

Others who gained the media’s attention were the team’s fourth-round pick, former San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery, and the team’s fifth round pick, former Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge. For Lowery, he voiced some of the same goals of Gholston, mainly being “just to make the team.” As far as the season goes, Lowery said, “I’m not really seeing myself fitting in anywhere [on the roster]. I just want to come in and work hard,” he said.

Ainge expressed some of the same sentiments, saying that “Coming out here and just trying to learn and trying to get better,” are goals of his.

However, while any young player knows that making a rapid development is key while playing in the NFL, Ainge knows he must remain patient.

“There probably is 15 things I can do to get better, but they can’t give me 15 in one practice,” he said.

INSIDER TIDBITS

Jets sign 10 undrafted free agents and offer tryouts to 35 others.

Players signed are the following:

Brett Byford (C/Nebraska/Hartselle, AL/6-3, 300)
Jehuu Caulcrick (RB/Michigan State/Findley Lake, NY/6-0, 255)
Kenwin Cummings (LB/Wingate/Maxon, NC/6-2, 258)
Nate Lyles (S/Virginia/Chicago, IL/6-0, 199)
Bryan Mattison (DE/Iowa/Mishawaka, ID/6-3, 272)
Al Phillips (CB/Wagner/Miami, FL/5-11, 195)
Ropati Pitoitua (DE/Washington State/Spanaway, WA/6-8, 290)
Paul Raymond (WR/Brown/Miami, FL/5-10, 170)
Justin Valentine (FB/Minnesota/Columbus, OH/6-1, 230)
Danny Woodhead (RB/Chadron State/North Platte, NE/5-7, 195)

The following players have been invited by the Jets for tryouts this weekend:

Joshua Abrams-RB, Ohio University, 6-0 197 pounds
Viliami Akoteu- DL, Idaho State, 6-3 340
Cory Anderson-FB, Tennessee, 6-3, 255
Wallace Artis- LB, Furman, 6-5, 268
Charles Bailey-CB, Kentucky State, 6- 2, 208
William Bullard- WR, Texas A+M-CC, 6-5, 215
Zach Catanese- S, Arizona State, 6-2, 230
Nelson Coleman-LB, Tulsa, 6-2, 235
Will Collins-LS, Southern California, 6-2, 220
Curtis Cutts-S, Central Michigan, 6-0, 210
John Dunlap-WR, NC State, 6-1, 218
Patrick Fisher-P, LSU, 6-5, 238
Brandt Hollander-DL, Yale, 6-3, 285
Chris Hopkins-TE, Toledo, 6-5, 255
Kareem Huggins-RB, Hofstra, 5-8, 189
Nick Jarvis-LS, Wake Forest, 6-3, 250
Roderick Johnson-LB, Oklahoma State, 6-3, 255
Brad Listorti- TE, UMass, 6-4, 255
Chris McKillop-LB, Pittsburgh, 6-3, 265
Shawn McMackin-G, Hofstra, 6-3, 287
Tad Miller-G, Boise State, 6-4, 304
Mark Myers-K, Florida Atlantic, 6-2, 195
Karl Noa-LB, Hawaii, 6-4, 238
Jacob Owns-DL, Fairmont State, 6-4, 275
Blair Phillips-LB, Oregon, 6-1, 245
Paul Pratt-CB, Nevada, 5-10, 185
Charles Sullivan-WR, Hofstra, 6-1, 202
Marty Tadman-S, Boise State, 5-11, 182
Davanzo Tate-CB, Akron, 5-10, 185
David Thompson-OL, East Central University, 6-5, 366
Joseph Tuineau-OT, SE Missouri, 6-8, 280
Alan Turner-WR, Southern Illinois, 6-0, 200
Christian Varner-S, Maryland, 5-11, 205
Antwun Williams-WR, Virgina State, 6-2, 185

Rostered players that were asked to participate this weekend are the following:

WR David Ball
DB Etienne Boulay
OL Stanley Daniels
P Jeremy Kapinos
OL Clint Oldenburg
QB Brett Ratliff
OL Rob Turner.

Practice is open to the media starting at 3PM with a press conference by Head Coach Eric Mangini to follow. Check back to JI for a complete recap and report.

PHOTO GALLERY: For exclusive Jets Insider.com Minicamp photos CLICK HERE

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