New York Jets draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson listens to a...

New York Jets draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson listens to a question after he was introduced to the media at the team's training facility. (April 29, 2011) Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Muhammad Wilkerson doesn't walk around constantly sporting earplugs to drown out the noise.

So it's only inevitable that he hears the chatter -- because he played for Temple, he faced inferior competition. It burns up the 6-5, 305-pound defensive end-tackle from Linden, N.J., motivating him to prove to his detractors that he indeed can be an impact player, someone worthy of being chosen 30th by the Jets in the first round of the NFL draft.

"It kind of does," Wilkerson said Friday. "I feel like they are kind of doubting. At the end of the day, I really don't want to buy into it, because that would cause confusion with me. But I'm just going to go out there and be myself and be the player that I am capable of being."

The Jets further bolstered their defensive line Friday by drafting Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis 94th overall in the third round. The 6-5, 346-pound behemoth has some baggage, though. He was arrested in April 2010 for assault after allegedly breaking a man's nose, and according to a report in the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., he is facing a felony charge, a July 12 jury trial and as many as 20 years in prison.

He transferred to Hampton after getting dismissed from the team at South Carolina for repeated violations of unspecified team and university rules.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum said he is comfortable with Ellis' legal situation. "Just talking to a lot of the people around him, we just feel based on all that information and our scouts, that he's going to come in here with a fresh start and be a productive player for us," Tannenbaum said. "The proof is going to be in the pudding, obviously. But again, there's a lot of information, a lot of effort that goes into it, and when you make a pick like this, there's a lot that goes into it."

Wilkerson wasn't heavily recruited out of high school, partially because he didn't initially qualify because of his grades. He spent a season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., to improve his academic standing, playing on both sides of the ball as a defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end and offensive tackle.

With Temple staying loyal, he wanted to go there, and coach Al Golden helped mold him into a two-time All-Mid-American Conference first-team selection. It's true that he didn't often play against elite competition, but Jets coach Rex Ryan noted that against then-No. 23 Penn State in September, Wilkerson had nine tackles and a fumble recovery. He had 161/2 sacks in his last two seasons.

That hasn't silenced all the skeptics, though. "That don't bother me at all,'' said Wilkerson's father, Alvin. "He's capable of hanging out there with the big dogs."

Wilkerson's oldest brother, LaQuan Brown, 36, who played for Elizabeth High School, said, "I just knew it that one day he'd be playing professional ball sooner or later."

That time is now. Said Wilkerson, "One of my goals my sophomore year was to be a first- or second-round draft pick."

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