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Steelers

Cornerbacks headed to town

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, April 15, 2004

The aptly named Chris Gamble, a cornerback who likes take chances, visited with Steelers coaches and officials Wednesday on the South Side, toting the nickname, Vegas.

"I gambled a lot," Gamble said.

Not with his money -- with his reputation.

"I tried to make too many big plays, instead of letting it come to me."

Nonetheless, Gamble, who is leaving Ohio State as a junior, remains a consideration for the Steelers in the first round of the draft -- especially if they decide to trade down. Cornerback might be the position of greatest need on the team, and the Steelers entertained three of them yesterday, including Ahmad Carroll of Arkansas and Joey Thomas of Division 1-AA Montana State. Brigham Young's Jernaro Gilford was in town Tuesday.

They also sent representatives to Division II Tusculum to work out and visit with cornerback Ricardo Colclough, who will get serious consideration from the Steelers in the second round.

Gamble, 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, went to Ohio State as a wide receiver, but was playing both positions by midway through the 2002 season. Critics believe he needs more experience; plus, he is the slowest of the three cornerbacks who were in Pittsburgh yesterday, running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash.

"I'm fast on the field," he said. "That is what really matters."

Gamble said he started feeling comfortable at cornerback at the most opportune time -- in the national championship victory against Miami (Fla.) after the '02 season."

In that game, he held Hurricanes wide receiver Andre Johnson, a first-round pick in '03, to one reception after the first quarter.

"I know the position very well," he said. "I'm a quick learner."

Gamble is ranked a notch or two below the best cornerbacks in the draft, DeAngelo Hall of Virginia Tech and Dunta Robinson of South Carolina.

"I can play with anybody they put out there," Gamble said.

Carroll, 5-10, 195, also has an interesting nickname. His pee-wee coach started calling him "Batman" when he was five.

"I didn't want to play football at first so I started jumping over the center (to disrupt the play) and he started calling me Batman. It fits me."

Carroll, who has run a 4.34 40, was a track star at Arkansas, setting the school record in the 60-yard dash (6.69). He said coach Bill Cowher told him that Carroll's bump-and-run style of playing cornerback would fit the Steelers' scheme.

"They need a corner," Carroll said. "So does everybody else in the NFL."

Thomas, 6-1, 195, started his collegiate career at the University of Washington before transferring after a few months.

"We (agreed) to disagree," he said of the Washington coaching staff.

At Montana State, he faced several passing-oriented offenses and collected 11 interceptions in three seasons and was a two-time All-Big Sky performer. During his junior season, he suffered a knee injury and watched the first half of the Central Washington game from the press box. When it appeared that his team might lose, he ran downstairs for the second half, put on a uniform and helped Montana State to the victory.

"It's all about competition and competing," he said. "You have a lot of chances to make plays in the Big Sky. I tried to take advantage of it."

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