There he was, in a striped, buttoned-up shirt with a baby-blue tie and a Cincinnati Bengals ballcap sitting in front of the press.

There he was, in a striped, buttoned-up shirt with a baby-blue tie and a Cincinnati Bengals ballcap sitting in front of the press.

Jermaine Gresham the NFL tight end arrived.

A news conference in Cincinnati was held for the Ardmore native Friday, one day after he was drafted 21st overall in the NFL draft. Gresham is looking forward to playing his first game since a right knee injury cost him his senior season at Oklahoma.

“Having something that you love taken from you … it makes you appreciate it a whole lot more and realize what it’ll do for your life,” Gresham said in the conference.

In Ardmore, Gresham’s father Jerry said Saturday he talked with his son shortly after he was drafted. Jermaine Gresham said he was alone at his apartment watching the draft.

“He said he was proud to be a Bengal,” Jerry Gresham said outside his Ardmore home. He hadn’t yet watched the conference.

Jermaine said he was alone for the draft because he didn’t want to put his family through any “up-and-down” emotions and stress. Jerry said he felt excited and had tears in his eyes when he heard his fourth and youngest child’s name called.

“I raised him from fifth grade up. It’s pretty good for just he and I,” Jerry said.

Jermaine said he thought he had a chance in Cincinnati because he bonded well with the coaches and some of the players there. As far as any questions one may still have about his ability to perform, Gresham thinks he “solved” them with his workouts for scouts.

“I did everything. I didn’t hold back on nothing. I showed everybody the knee was healthy,” he said. “I did my pro day. I did everything. I think I solved that question for everybody.”

At OU’s pro day, Gresham actually just caught passes for Sam Bradford, the top overall draft pick who’s going to the St. Louis Rams.

For an athlete who excelled in football and basketball at Ardmore High, the decision to stick with the gridiron obviously is money in the bank.

And Gresham said he can’t afford to hold out of training camp to command more money.

“My sophomore year in high school, I remember my high school coach said, ‘You know, your future’s going to be in football,” said Gresham, who didn’t say whether it was then-Ardmore football coach Mike Loyd or basketball head man Mark Wilson who made the statement. “I could see the changes happening, and he was right. … What I could do on a football field as opposed to on a basketball (court) was rare, in his eyes.”

Wilson said he thought Loyd told Gresham that, but he apparently agreed with the statement.

“In basketball, he was a post man in high school, and a really good one, but at 6-6, he wasn’t going to be a post man in college,” said Wilson, who coached Ardmore to state final appearances in Gresham’s freshman and sophomore seasons (2002-04). “Taking his football game to the next level rather than his basketball game was more natural.”

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer now has four Big 12 receivers to turn to — a pair of tight ends in Gresham and second-year pro Chase Coffman of Missouri, and Texas wideouts Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley. Shipley was drafted in the third round Friday night.

Gresham said in the conference he had not talked to Palmer, but he’s ready to team up with a tight end who won the 2008 John Mackey Award over him. He said he and Coffman will give defenses match-up problems.

“We can run, we can block, however you want it, we’re going to give it to you,” he said.

I.C. Murrell


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