Thaddeus Gibson is leaving five-time Big Ten defending champion Ohio State a year early, eager to pursue an NFL career.
Gibson, an All-Big Ten defensive end, led the Rose Bowl champions in tackles-for-loss last season with 13. Quick and athletic, Gibson created matchup problems for slower offensive linemen.
The 6-foot-2, 248 pounder from Euclid, Ohio, started 23 games in his career and had 10 sacks. Considered by most too small to play defensive end in the NFL, Gibson hopes his
performance at Ohio State's recent pro day and at a number of private workouts with NFL teams will convince the pros that he isn't a "tweener" and will be able to play outside linebacker in the NFL.
"I enjoy doing both," Gibson said about his position preference. "With these NFL defenses, versatile defensive ends and outside linebackers are the key. But I'm open - whatever it is they want me to do, I'll do it. Punting the ball, kicking the ball, catching the ball - I'll do it."
Besides the 25 teams represented at the OSU pro day, where the Pittsburgh Steelers showed the most interest in his skills, Gibson has also had private workouts with New Orleans, Cleveland, Buffalo, and New England. Gibson is represented by Columbus-based agent Brad Cicala, who also represents former Buckeyes Bam Childress, Justin Zwick, David Patterson, Lydell Ross, Antonio Smith, and Roy Hall.
"All of his characteristics show me that Thad will be successful in the NFL, due to his drive and work ethic," Cicala said. "All of the work he did to get himself ready for the draft will pay dividends."
Most projections show Gibson being chosen between rounds two and four of the draft. He said he is relieved to have all of the testing, scrutiny, interviews, and workouts completed and is anxious for draft day to arrive.
"I'm very happy it's all behind me now, and just waiting to see what's next, and looking forward to the next opportunity," Gibson said. "You have a lot of eyes on you in this process."
In an unusual year when Ohio State does not have a certain first-rounder, several of Gibson's former teammates are still hoping to hear their names called. Safety Kurt Coleman is generally rated fifth in the draft at his position and should be drafted in the fourth or fifth round.
Defensive tackle Doug Worthington, receiver/return man Ray Small, defensive ends Lawrence Wilson and Rob Rose, safety Anderson Russell, and kicker Aaron Pettrey are also hopeful that a professional contract is in their future, but they are expected to either go in the late rounds of the draft or have to go the free agent route.
Pettrey is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss half of the 2009 season, but he is still rated as high as No. 2 among the kickers available.
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