Where Are They Now: Chris Gamble

By Alex on November 5, 2012 at 4:00p

Back in August, I wrote a piece on how Bradley Roby could end up playing on two, and possibly even three sides of the ball for the Buckeyes, serving as a wide receiver and return man in addition to his duties as OSU's lockdown corner.

Gamble did it allChris Gamble was a three-way star for the Buckeyes

As it turns out, the Ohio State staff did experiment with flipping a player to the other side of the ball, but it wasn't Roby. Rather, fullback Zach Boren made the move to defense at linebacker and has done an outstanding job playing exclusively on that side of the ball in Etienne Sabino's absence.

With the bye week coming up, it appears Sabino will heal up in time for the team's final two games at Wisconsin and home against Michigan. When he returns, Boren will move back to his fullback position, but will still likely see time at linebacker when the Bucks are in three backer sets. If and when that happens, the senior captain will be the first player since Chris Gamble to play on both sides of the ball at Ohio State.

That is certainly saying something, as Gamble was a unique talent in Columbus. The Davie, Florida, native came to OSU in 2001 as a wide receiver, but it became evident rather quickly his athleticism and talents would be wasted by just catching passes. The staff knew there was more the 6-1/195 athlete could do to help the team, and by playing him on both special teams and on defense, he helped the Buckeyes earn a national title in the 2002 season.

In this week's segment of "Where Are They Now" we take a look back at Gamble's illustrious three year career in Columbus, his arrival in the NFL, and where he is today.

Join us after the jump to hear about the last true two-way star at Ohio State, Chris Gamble.

Three-Way Threat

As mentioned above, Gamble arrived at Ohio State out of Dillard High School in Davie, Florida, as a member of Jim Tressel's first recruiting class (John Cooper started recruiting the class, so credit to JHC).

Miami still cryin'Gamble was part of one history in 2002

Many thought Gamble would be a contributor at the college level as a pass-catcher and even returning kicks, but in need of help in the secondary, the Ohio State coaches gave Chris practice reps at cornerback, where he locked down the Buckeye receivers and eventually found his way onto the field at the position.

During his three-year career in Columbus, Gamble played in 38 games, starting 30 of them. Twelve of those starts came on defense at corner and 18 came at receiver, with the star earning 5 overlapping starts (both offense and defense) during the 2002 season.

His career stats were good, but don't even tell the whole story of the impact he had while playing for the Scarlet and Gray. Gamble tallied 40 catches for 609 yards through the air, while also rushing 6 times for 68 yards and a score on offense. On special teams he had 467 punt return yards and 384 kick return yards, and on defense he totaled 65 tackles (3 for loss), 7 interceptions, 21 pass deflections, and a touchdown off one of the interceptions.

Those aren't eye-popping, but the accolades earned certainly are. In addition to winning the 2002 national championship and the Fiesta Bowl in 2003, Gamble was named a 3rd team All-America and 1st team All-Big Ten member, earning a reputation as a super athlete and putting himself in position to be able to leave early from college to make way for his career in the NFL.

The NFL Awaits

Gamble's move to leave early from college paid off when the Carolina Panthers made him the 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

The league awaited and he arrivedGamble was a great pick by the Panthers

While it was thought Gamble had the talent to possibly play two ways in the NFL to some extent, the league is just a completely different beast as compared to college football and it was decided Gamble's full potential could be reached by just concentrating on one position, cornerback.

In his first season with the Panthers, Gamble became the first defensive rookie in team history to start all 16 regular season games. He was named to the All-Rookie team by Pro Football Weekly after the season and led his team with 6 interceptions, good for third in the NFL, and proving the move to one side of the ball to be a good one.

Showing that his rookie campaign was no fluke, Gamble came back in year two to notch 7 interceptions, ranking first on his team again and fourth in the NFL. Following that he once again led the Panthers with 3 interceptions in 2006, his third year in the league, further cementing himself as a legitimate NFL cornerback and a franchise defensive player for Carolina that would be around for years to come.

Savvy Vet A Mainstay

Now in his ninth NFL season, Gamble is still a mainstay in the Panthers' secondary and is likely one of the most important players in the franchise's history.

The end nearing?Gamble's time with Carolina may be ending soon

Gamble holds franchise records for interceptions (27) and pass deflections (94), while also tallying 508 tackles, a sack, 4 forced fumbles, 4 recovered fumbles, and 2 touchdowns in his defensive career. To add to those numbers, he also racked up 412 punt return yards while handling those duties during his first three seasons with the team.

The Panthers rewarded Gamble for his contributions to their franchise with a six-year $53 million ($23 million guaranteed) contract before the 2008 season, making him one of the highest paid defensive backs in the league at the time.

In the fifth year of that contract, Gamble is just 29 years old, but will be headed toward the wrong side of 30 come March 2013, usually a sign of going downhill in the NFL.

The complete end likely isn't near, but Gamble's hold as a topnotch corner in the league likely is. This year he has only played in four games due to a shoulder injury and with a decent chunk of money due to him in the final year of his contract next season, there is a chance his time with Carolina may be up after this current season.

Regardless of what happens, Gamble has had an excellent run in the pro ranks and not only has done the Panthers well during his nine years in the league, but also has made Buckeye Nation proud with not only his play, but his demeanor off the field and in the community.

With the Panthers playing on Monday Night Football at home on November 26, there is certainly a chance Gamble makes it to the Michigan game on the 24th to get honored as a member of the 2002 national championship team. Buckeye fans will certainly hope he can make it so they can cheer a great ambassador of The Ohio State University.


Comments Show All Comments

builderofcoalitions's picture

Without breaking FERPA laws, I want to share that my wife (before she was my wife) may or may not have passed Gamble in a composition course at OSU. He may or may not have shared stories with her about how some days while growing up, the school bus simply didn't pick him up. Gamble came from some humble beginnings and was a good, hard-working kid. Allegedly.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Larryp713's picture

Chris Gamble was one of my favorite Buckeyes. He really stepped up in the 2002 season. And for anybody who complains about the ticky tacky PI in OT of that game, I remind them that had a legit PI been called against UM in the 4th qtr, where the Cane CB mugged Gamble, there would have been no OT. I believe that was Karma. I am glad he is still fighting the fight with the Panthers. Nice write-up, Alex.



osu07asu10's picture

Haha loved Gamble, man was a beast. Anyone else remember the commercial in the shoe of him doing EVERYTHING from cheerleading to being brutus, concessions, cleaning, etc...he was a good guy during the filming of all that.

A great buckeye, sewn deep into our history, and I am glad he has had a successful pro career

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Basso Profondo's picture

Here is a link to the video of Gamble doing everything, very funny.

osu07asu10's picture

Haha one of my former bosses tosses Gamble the keys at the end, love it!

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osubuckeye4life's picture

I have not seen that video in a long time!
Hilarious stuff and Gamble was a good sport for doing that.

osu07asu10's picture

Obvious PI!!!! 

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tennbuckeye19's picture

Most people who have a problem with the interference call in the game claim that it was a bogus call and Miami was hosed. Even with visual evidence, people will say that, while there was contact, it should've been a no call. My position on the play is that had the referee not waited for what seemed like 10 years to throw his flag, there would've been less backlash. And of course most people don't consider the contact made as Gamble was running his route prior to the ball even being thrown.

Abe Froman's picture

Agree.  He should have thrown it as soon as he saw it.  I have heard that he was calling defensive holding but I could not see why in any replay.  Personally, I think there were a couple of calls that did not go our way on the drive that would have sealed it.  On the same play, Gamble was held and (I think) caught the ball on a 3rd and 7(?).  His first down would have iced it, instead we had to punt which led to a big return and game-tying field goal.

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

Earle's picture

The no-call on that hold was terrible.  If he makes that call its game over.  No sympathy for the whiners on the PI.  It was the right call but it never should have come to that.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

joel121270's picture

Since we're on it, let's not forget 4th and 14 that same drive in which they gave up 17.

cplunk's picture

I blame Dan Fouts for the perception. When I watched it live, they kept replaying only the final split second of the play while Fouts spouted over and over that it was a bad call. At no time did Fouts ever ask for replay of earlier in the play or talk about the thought that maybe the replay wasn't starting early enough. He put the first impression in people's heads and it has stuck for many.

Jarrett's picture

Reading a few of the comments and yours sticks out as one of the most acceptable reasons, to me, that such a big deal was made of this. I can't stand Fouts- but when he started saying "bad, call, bad call," and then didn't check himself? Not professional and of course- as you said, perpetuated the PI as doubtful, etc...I'm so glad he is hardly ever calling a game I watch now. Hearing his voice just pisses me off instantly. Good comment! 
Go Bucks!

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Groucho Marx 


yrro's picture

I almost forget just how biased the announcers were that game. When you get to the end of the game and the announcers are having sour grapes over who "was still the better team"? I'd forgotten how satisfying that part of the game was.

Earle's picture

Nice story.  Good memories.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

Denny's picture

His pick-six against PSU in 06 is the loudest I've ever heard the Shoe. So, so, so great.


BrewstersMillions's picture

2002 right?
I was at the game in the North endzone so the ball was going away from where I was. I was fortunate enough to attend 36 games in the Shoe and that one is by far the most memorable play I witnessed in person. You just kept thinking "Ok he's down, ok this guy will tackle him, ok this one...." He would not be denied.

Denny's picture

Yup, 2002. My bad.
I was in the south stands and he ran right to me and I hugged everyone all around and it was so great.


jestertcf's picture

edit: posted twice

~Because we couldn't go for three~

Bucksfan's picture

Two-thirds of the world is covered by water.  The other third is covered by Chris Gamble.

jestertcf's picture

The best video that I have seen of the PI and a remarkable breakdown.

~Because we couldn't go for three~


This video reminds me how much I loathe Dan Fouts as a football commentator. Biggest anti-OSU announcer out there IMHO. I won't even watch an NFL game he announces.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

^^ I was gonna find this video and post had no one else.   It is fantastic.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

BUCKfutter's picture

i always thought gamble was underutilized on offense. i realize that after he switched to D, his offensive snaps were limited, but i watched every snap in '02 and '03 and don't remember too many reverses or screens or quick slants called for him a la ginn later on. or, if i am misremembering, someone enlighten me.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

jestertcf's picture

upvote for misremember. Roger Clemons jokes are still funny to me !!!

~Because we couldn't go for three~

nickma71's picture

All he had to do was hold onto a catchable ball while Sharpe was holding him and they wouldn't still be talking about it. If you remember, Sharpe admitted the penatly in saying "we did it all night why call it now" or something along those lines.

ODEEZ330's picture

My favorite #7 in tosu history one of my fav dbs too. Him n mike doss we had a nasty secondary in 02

stark county football

thatlillefty's picture

Forgot Gamble was just a sophomore in '02...man he was special!
Also, concerning Alex's point that he will likely be cut at the end of the season, even with one more year on his contract.. i think that's complete BS that NFL franchises have that power, but that's just me.
Thanks for everything #7. Hope to see you in the 'Shoe in 3 weeks.

yrro's picture

On the other hand, those contracts are always made with a restructure or cut in mind. The numbers in the last year are almost always just for bragging rights.

Earle's picture

Power to the people!
Seriously, that's why NFL deals are so often front-ended with signing bonuses, roster bonuses, etc.  Sad that so many of them end up broke, though, even with the money they make, or in poor health due to injuries.  The brain damage is is particulary scary as more info comes out on it.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

Doc's picture

Gamble is hands down my second favorite Buckeye, behind Archie.  I thought that guy was so fun to watch.  What an elite talent. 

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buckeye76BHop's picture

Great Buckeye...I'll always remember him for this against PSU...personally I thought OSU would have lost without that happening.  Many forget about it....but I never have.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

timdogdad's picture

gamble was another chapter in the the 2002 book of the most unbelievable osu season ever. you'll never see another season like that.  i don't think anyone 's blood pressure and nerves could survive one like that anyway. 


Gamble single-handedly won the Penn State game in 02 and him getting mugged in the Miami game forced OT. One could argue he was as important as Clarett was that year, if not a little more so because of his play at DB, especially in the title game where he helped mitigate the impact of Andre Johnson and Kellen Winslow.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Such an amazing athlete and a great Buckeye! There really have been some truly amazing Buckeyes that have donned the #7.
I'll always remember the PSU interception. That game was a 12 round slug fest and that was the knockout punch in the eleventh.