If you don't know the name William Gholston by now, you will by the end of this upcoming college football season. Gholston is a junior defensive end for the Michigan State Spartans and quite possibly one of the best defensive lineman in the country.
The man is a monster, standing 6'7" and weighing in at a solid 275 pounds of pure muscle. He was ranked among the nation's top prospects coming out of high school and possibly the best recruit in the state of Michigan.
Gholston does, however, have a reputation that may seem an unfair one to place upon such a talented player. Last season, he was punished for throwing a punch at Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan in a heated rivalry game. He was also guilty of twisting Denard Robinson's helmet at the bottom of a pile.
He was suspended for possibly the biggest game of the season just a week later against another rival and No. 5 team in the country, Wisconsin.
This seemed like the worst possible situation for Gholston and the entire Spartan team. The Spartans' dominant defensive end wouldn't be there to help them fight a battle with the best offensive line in the conference. Wisconsin's offensive line struck fear into defenses around the Big Ten, and that was expected to be no different with a Gholston-less Spartan defense.
Michigan State ended up winning the contest against Wisconsin on a last-second Hail Mary pass from Kirk Cousins that was deflected off of B.J. Cunningham into Keith Nichol's waiting arms. It was one of the best finishes in the entire college football season and one of the most exciting in Spartan Stadium's history.
All of this happened without "Big Will", as he is known around campus. He vowed to set himself straight, and never to jeopardize his team with other acts of emotion that got him caught up in the heat of the moment.
Although the mistakes he made in the Michigan game were publicly criticized and he was labeled a thug by many critics, he knew that he was not that type of player. He knew that he let his emotions get the best of him in a heated game, and he knew that he usually plays with class.
After the suspension, Gholston came back and played as if nothing had happened, putting the suspension behind him. He racked up 29 tackles in the next two games against Nebraska and Minnesota combined. He once again looked like the dominant presence that he was expected to be coming out of high school.
Accumulating 29 tackles in two games is a number that would be expected for a linebacker, not a defensive lineman. This number was almost unheard of for his position, and that was a huge way to come back from his suspension.
This was also extremely impressive because in six games before his suspension, he only had 20 tackles, and to rack up nine more in two games than he had in the first six showed flashes of superstardom.
He has just 1.5 total sacks in the first six games as well, and he matched that mark in the two-game massacre he put up following the suspension.
If anything, the punishment woke Gholston up and made him realize that if he plays to his potential, he can be the most dominant defensive player in the entire Big Ten Conference. He could also be one of the most punishing defenders in the entire country when his potential is maximized.
Gholston finished the 2011 season with a dominating performance in the Outback Bowl against the SEC's Georgia Bulldogs, finishing with seven tackles and two sacks. This performance put Gholston on the map nationally, playing with such confidence against a solid SEC opponent.
He finished his sophomore season with 70 tackles, 16 for loss, and five sacks. These are extremely impressive statistics especially because he missed two games last season and didn't realize his potential until the Nebraska game halfway through the season.
There is no doubt that William Gholston will have his NFL Draft stock improved after his upcoming season, and he will become a household name before it's all said and done.
With the defensive prowess and seemingly unlimited potential that Gholston possesses, Gholston is sure to become a superstar in college football this season and a star in the sport for years to come.
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