Leland Stein III

Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Gholston earns playing time in Tampa Bay

In sports column on November 25, 2013 at 4:10 am
WILLIAM GHOLSTON (# 2) making mark in NFL – Dan Graschuck photo

WILLIAM GHOLSTON (# 2) making mark in NFL – Dan Graschuck photo

Detroiter representing PSL.

By Leland Stein III

DETROIT – When Detroiters – tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston – and running back Le’Veon Bell left Michigan State University to enter the NFL Draft, all knew the Spartans would miss this trio.

The Spartans have, but they have continued to push on, winning the Big Ten Legends Division, and have earned the right to play the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten title.

When the three Spartans announced they were forgoing their senior seasons, it marked the first time Michigan State has had multiple underclassmen enter the NFL Draft since 1999, when defensive end Dimitrius Underwood and running back Sedrick Irvin left East Lansing.

Leland Stein IIIBell with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sims with the Miami Dolphins and Gholston with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all are making the transition to professional football.

In particular, recently at Ford Field I caught up with former Detroit Southeastern High star, Gholston, in the joyous Buccaneers’ locker room.

With a giant smile on his face Gholston and his teammates rejoiced following its third consecutive victory. This one was an improbable 24-21 upset over a Lions team that has playoff aspirations.

Tampa Bay, just playing every game with nothing to lose, now sits at 3-8, while the Lions fell to 6-5.

“We are happy to be playing good enough to get this thing back on track,” exclaimed Gholston. “We went through some adversity early in the season, but this group has hung together and shone some grit.”

Also showing some grit is Gholston. He came to a Tampa bay team whose strength is a solid young cast of defensive linemen. Gholston had to wait his turn, especially since the team was mired in a prolonged early season losing streak.

“This is a great group of defensive linemen,” Gholston noted. “With a Pro Bowl type player like Gerald McCoy setting the example we are getting better. He has taken me and the other rookies under his wing and never misses an opportunity to help us or give words of encouragement.”

Gholston told me he started slowly in part because he was used to “playing in a five technique,” so he had to learn the nuances of the “four technique.”

He added: “It took me some time to change the way I had learned the game, but now I feel like I’ve got it. Also, the hardest part about moving to the NFL is the mental part of the game. I felt physically I was ready, but I had to understand the ways of being a professional football player, and, everything that comes with that.

“I’ve dedicated myself to just concentrating on football and not hanging out and all that other stuff. Also, I came in with a 17% body fat ratio, and I’ve got it down to 10%.”

Indeed, he has an NFL body. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing a solid 281 pounds, the Southeastern and MSU star is not out of place in an NFL locker room.

“It feels great to be healthy,” Gholston shared. “As you know, all most all my time at MSU I was playing hurt. I really believe that MSU helped prepare me for the NFL though. In college we looked at it as a business and had fun too. I’m keeping that same prospective here in Tampa.”

Gholston said that he has followed every MSU game this season. “The Spartans are rolling,” he unleased. “They are playing that smash-mouth defense that we started. I still text the defensive linemen. It is going to be a heck of a game in the championship against Ohio State; I wish I could be there supporting my guys!”

Gholston twice earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and in his junior year led the Spartans in tackles for loss (13 for 49 yards), sacks (4.5 for 24 yards) and pass break-ups (10). His 10 pass break-ups ranked first among NCAA FBS defensive linemen.

McCoy said about the rookie: “Gholston is a hard worker. He comes to me for advice and is eager to learn and make himself a better player. Once he learns all the little things about defensive line play in the NFL, he’s going to be a beast. He’s a bull and is quick and strong.”

Former Ohio State and now New York Giants rookie defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins, who played at Southeastern with Gholston, forming one of the Detroit Public School League’s greatest defensive line pairs, are inspiration for each other.

“Big Hank is my guy!” exclaimed Gholston. “We talk to each constantly. We motivate and uplift each other. We both are trying to learn to be pros’ pros.”

I’ve known these men since high school and have watched their maturation. It is no doubt they both will traverse the mind field that is professional sports, and, find their place as productive and character driven athletes.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII