March 31, 2012

Gholston, Rush sweating the details this spring

EAST LANSING - Last spring Marcus Rush and William Gholston represented one half of a four-man competition for two starting defensive end spots.

Twelve months later, Rush and Gholston are established playmakers with 27 starts between them on a Michigan State defense which finished 2011 ranked in the Top 10 in total defense, sacks, rush defense, and scoring defense.

With talented youngsters Shilique Calhoun and Joel Heath behind them, neither returning starter is resting on past success. Be that as it may, Rush, a sophomore, and Gholston, a junior, are approaching spring practice differently in 2012 than they did a year ago.

"It is just little details as far as assignments," said Rush when describing his focus this spring. "Hand placement, power, explosiveness, pass-rush. There is so much stuff that you can work on and it is just little things that you can work on. That is what I am trying to work on and get better every day."

Given his background at Cincinnati Greater Catholic League powerhouse Archbishop Moeller, Rush arrived at Michigan State program with a firm technical foundation. Last fall, Rush was well ahead of Gholston in the technical requirements at defensive end.

Now in his third year at Michigan State, Gholston, who played linebacker all four of his years on varsity at Detroit Southeastern, is much improved as a technician. Continued growth in the nuances of the defensive end position is a primary focus for Gholston this spring.

"I think I needed to work on my stance and that is one thing I working on during spring ball," said Gholston, a second-team All-Big Ten selection last fall. "I kind of worked on it in the off-season. I feel like my get-off is getting better too. Those are two key things that I really needed to work on."

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has noticed significant improvement in Gholston between last season and present.

"I think he is a smarter player right," said the sixth-year Michigan State coordinator. "I think he understands better. Fundamentally, he is much better than he was a year ago. Footwork, getting off the ball, playing with a better base, using his hands better and just really knowing how he fits with the scheme of the defense."

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