What Makes William Gholston Tick?

April 30th, 2013


When Joe learned the Bucs drafted Michigan State defensive end Will Gholston, let’s say Joe was intrigued. The guy is built like an Adonis and images of Simeon Rice began dancing in Joe’s head.

Then Joe began researching Gholston. How, with a beastly body like his, did he get such poor numbers against garbage Big Ten teams (Joe’s a Big Ten guy, grew up with the Big Ten and never in his life has he seen the conference so miserable. The MAC may have been better in 2012!)?.

It seems Gholston’s play fell off after a promising 2011.

Then Joe found this video of Gholston and was blown away by his personality. What’s going on here? Something wasn’t adding up.

So Joe turned to Jim Miller.

Many of you know Miller, a former Bears and Steelers quarterback, as the unofficial 12th man of SiriusXM NFL Radio. He is always substituting for someone, morning, noon, afternoon or night. Joe half-expects to turn SiriusXM NFL Radio at 3 a.m. and hear Miller.

But the reason to reach out to Miller is that Miller, a Michigan State product himself, is the color analyst for the Michigan State football radio broadcasts. If anyone knows Gholston, it would be Miller.

Per Miller, Gholston came from a rotten upbringing and Miller believes Gholston is still coping from a nightmarish childhood.

“I think he is a real good kid,” Miller said. “He comes from a really rough background [in Detroit].”

Miller noted that as a child Gholston was passed from one relative’s home to another relative’s home and endured homelessness at times.

“At one point he lived out of a car,” Miller said.

But football, Miller said, specifically his high school football coach, Donshell English, turned Gholston’s life around where he was able to attend Michigan State on a football scholarship after being named Michigan’s top high school football player.

After his senior season in 2010, Gholston played in the Under Armour High School All-America Game in St. Petersburg.

“At times, he is tremendous,” Miller said of the Spartans defensive end. “At other times, he struggles. I think it is because he is still growing as an individual.”

Then there was an incident in 2011, when Gholston was suspended by the Big Ten for an incident in the annual Michigan State-Michigan game for swinging at Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. There was much more to it than that, Miller said.

The two were in a near street brawl at every snap, Miller noted.

“Out of 70 snaps, 35 of them Lewan could have been called for illegal hands to the face,” Miller said. “I am sure they were [verbally] going back and forth [all game] and that is when it crossed the line.”

The line crossed was Lewan dropping  a racial slur on Gholston who responded with a punch and was pulled from the game for one play and later suspended by the Big Ten Conference for a game. Greg Johnson of The Grand Rapids Press, who covered that game for MLive.com, documented the incident.

Gholston was penalized for two personal-foul penalties in Saturday’s 28-14 win over Michigan, one after pulling on U-M quarterback Denard Robinson’s facemask and one after punching U-M lineman Taylor Lewan. The punch came after Lewan dragged Gholston to the ground by his facemask.

In a release from Michigan State following the incident, Gholston said, “Although provoked, my response was inappropriate.”

Miller said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, a disciplinarian of the highest order, only pulled Gholston out of the game for one play following his punch to Lewan, which seems to suggest Dantonio didn’t much blame Gholston for retaliating after having a racial slur dropped on him, in addition to being slammed to the turf by the facemask.

Upon his return, in the next two games, at Nebraska and home against Minnesota, Miller said Gholston played like a man possessed.

“He made 32 legitimate tackles in the next two weeks,” Miller said. “He was all over the field.”

As for Gholston’s lackluster, uneven 2012 season, Miller chalked that up to Gholston still growing up, and being distracted by the brighter lights (and big money?) of the NFL.

“He may have had some ‘agentitis’ in the ear,” Miller said.

Despite not dominating like Miller and other Sparty partisans believed he would last year, Miller thinks the Bucs got a steal in Gholston.

“Some people question his worth at times, but ending up with Greg Schiano, [the Bucs] will get the most of his talent,” Miller said. “He has the DNA, he is an athlete, nobody denies that. He is a freak athletically, now. He is gifted with the genetics. He is very long-armed and is the prototypical defensive end in a 43 front or he could be a five-technique.

“The key is for Greg Schiano to harness that talent. He still needs to grow and mature but he can be a phenomenal, phenomenal football player. I think it is a great pickup by Tampa Bay.

“His upside is tremendous.”

Hat tip to Nick Kostos.

20 Responses to “What Makes William Gholston Tick?”

  1. Anzac Buc Says:

    Good insight Joe, lets hope Gholston can harness that anger and turn it into a positive attribute.

  2. Sneedy16 Says:

    Good story to hear. Wish him the best and I hope that he has matured since that incident.

  3. BucsfaninChina Says:

    Time to leave the past in the past. Joe, would it be a reach to say his physical attributes and style of play are similar to Michael Bennett’s? If it isnt, its interesting to see Dom not resign cornerstones of the D line and bring in untested (aka cheap) clone college players to fill positions.

    Maybe Im looking a little too far into this, but if this management tactic continues Freeman will be next. His replacement has very similar attributes and unless Free makes a significant jump to the next level and not command elite QB money I have a feeling he will not be playing in pewter and red next year.

  4. astrobuc Says:

    Hopefully we can draft Taylor Lewan, so Gholston will play mad a lot.

  5. robert Says:


    Hope they have this guy chasing chickens till week one!!!

    Everyone talks veteran this, veteran that. Well I didn’t even know who the Patriots drafted @ DE last year till I caught a game. I know they weren’t top picks….and those dudes flat out got after the QB. It aint rocket science. I’m sure this guy will contribute from day one!

  6. Adam Says:

    Been waiting 5 years for Dominik to un-earth that late round gem. Could this be it?

  7. BOb Says:

    I too hope we can draft Lewa next year. . Gholstons just mad cause he couldnt get past that beast

  8. Biff Barker Says:

    Seems like we have a project, but if Gholston commits himself to being a Buccaneer Man, he will prosper here.

  9. Aldo Says:


    im kinda sure mike williams is that gem ur asking man…

  10. Capt. Tim Says:

    He has talent. But he has proved that he will take off entire games.

    There is a danger in taking players of questionable character, from bad backgrounds- see Brian price, Aqib Talib, etc.

    I hope the Bucs manage to do what his college did not- get him to play every down.

    Usually, it doesn’t happen.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed- if this guy matures- he has great talent. But if his being on stage at college- auditioning for the NFL -didn’t motivate him, then motivating him after he gets payed will be real difficult

  11. Oldguy Says:

    Cap’n – Your point is well taken. Still, my guess (we all guess) is he will straighten up and focus. Talented guy for sure.

  12. Bucnjim Says:


    You must of missed the part where Bennett has a shoulder injury that could limit his production with Seattle.

  13. Tomcin Says:

    Sounds like another underachiever. Remember Moore from I believe USC. A big bust. Not impressed with this draft at all. A lot of ifs.

  14. Bucnjim Says:

    This entire draft from top to bottom has a lot of if’s. I like this guy and if coached and motivated will create havoc in the near future.

  15. 4everBucsFan Says:

    Let’s just hope this guy can handle “NFL Life”. The money, the “BLING”. Let’s hope he matures under the tutelage of Schiano and staff. He seems like a huge project on the field and possibly off the field. With this kid it appears the reward is in the risk.

  16. McBuc Says:

    Bucmjim is right…Just about every draft pick is an “if”.

  17. Capt. Tim Says:

    Old guy- I hope you’re right! If this guy grows up- he could be a great player.

    The census here is correct, IMO. This draft is a lot of “ifs”. If Revis’s knee is good, if several immature players change from spots to stripes , etc.

    They constantly say they value character- but their actions say otherwise. I wish they really practiced what they preach!! We have wasted so many high picks on players with bad character/immaturity.

    Price, Tanard Jackson, Aqib talib, arrelious Benn.

    If you look at the draft- the winners( pats/ packers/ texans, etc)
    Draft high character, hard working players. Teams that bet on losers, usually end up losers.

    Those noble words about character actually work- if you live by them, instead of just saying them.

    Hope this bunch if players is the exception- and prove all the experts wrong about this draft class

  18. Andrew 1 Says:

    hes got the NFL body, now all he needs to do is get his mind right. if he can learn to play like every single play was his last, this guy would be special. I hope the bucs can get that from him.

  19. Jason A Says:

    Almost every pick in the draft is an “if” there is no guarantee that any player drafted is a definite game changer. Most recent is obviously Jamarcus Russell. You can say that everyone picked players that are “ifs” cuz nobody knows for sure whether or not they will succeed in the pros. Go Bucs and along with most of you I’m very excited for this season.

  20. Adam Says:


    There was never any question about MWilliams’ ability. He slid down the draft board because he QUIT the team at Syracuse. Nah… he isn’t it. And if you think he is, it just shows how hard we have to reach to find someone in that category.