August 18, 2012

Experience, improved technique fuel Gholston's development

EAST LANSING - Somewhere during bowl practice last December, William Gholston's technical foundation and conceptual understanding of the Michigan State defense began catching up to his immense physical ability at defensive end.

A dominant force during Michigan State's Outback Bowl victory over Georgia last January, Gholston continues to grow within the Spartan defense.

"I feel like I am getting better, like everybody else," said Gholston, a 6-foot-7, 278-pound junior, who was selected second-team All-Big Ten as a first-year starter in 2011. "I feel like I know more, and I am a little bit quicker and stronger than I was last year."

Gholston has improved to the point where extra attention from opponents could be routine.

"I expect my teammates to go out there and dominate," said Gholston when asked about the possibility of facing double teams as a junior. "We are going to dominate either way we go. But if somebody puts attention on me, I feel like you need 11 guys on 11 guys when we are out there."

Gholston has sky-high expectations for the Michigan State defense.

"Earlier today, me and Shilique (Calhoun), were standing back watching a play and we were like 'yeah man, we are going to be pretty good.' There is a lot of stuff gelling right now. When you get that feeling, you kind of know."

Gholston lacked the experience to accurately assess the potential of Michigan State's Top 10 defense in 2011.

"As far as my camp at this time last year," said Gholston, "I couldn't say (where we were at). I didn't have the same opportunity to look and analyze because I was still learning last camp."

Gholston's growth in the Spartan defense has put him in a position to help younger players navigate the same challenges he faced during his first two years in the Michigan State program. The Detroit Southeastern standout, for instance, has been a valuable resource for redshirt freshman Lawrence Thomas, who made the transition from linebacker to defensive end at the onset of training camp.

"He is getting significantly better right now," said Gholston, who moved from linebacker to defensive end midway through camp as a true freshman in 2010. "He is really learning every single day. His stance is better. His take-off is better. His hand placement is better."

Ironically, Gholston also has experience coming back from the same injury that hindered the development of Thomas, a consensus All-American linebacker at Detroit Renaissance.

"He had the same surgery (as I had),"said Gholston. "I feel like I can help him with the mental stuff, and I try to."

Click below for Gholston's interview from August 17.

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