Michigan State Star William Gholston Reportedly Declares for NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

The early departures for the Michigan State Spartans are starting to add up, as junior defensive end William Gholston will reportedly declare for the NFL draft.

From Hondo S. Carpenter of Spartan Nation:

Earlier this week an emotional William Gholston informed MSU Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio that he was entering the 2013 NFL draft.  Spartan Nation was made aware of that meeting from multiple sources with direct knowledge. 

Spartan Nation has reached out to Dantonio for comment, but he has chosen not to comment publicly at this time on Gholston or the departures of RB LeVeon Bell or TE Dion Sims who are all entering the NFL draft early.

That's three key players the Spartans will be without in 2013. It could be another rough season in East Lansing.

Gholston's reported departure is a bit surprising. Though his talent is immense—he finished the 2012 season with 59 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 10 passes broken up and a forced fumble—it was thought for most of the year he would return for the 2013 season.

And more than a few folks out there think he needed that extra year to develop. From Ty Schalter of Bleacher Report:

Brutal. He needed another year. RT @hondocarpenter: William Gholston Has Informed Mark Dantonio That He Is Entering the 2013 NFL Draft

— Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) January 3, 2013

Gholston made a name for himself as a sophomore, when he finished with 70 tackles, five sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The concern is that he didn't make a huge leap in production this season, justifying the concerns some might have about his readiness for the next level.

Part of that might also be that Gholston simply needs to mature and display more consistent effort as well, as Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press pointed out:

William Gholston's future is giving agita to some poor NFL DC given the task of getting him to play hard and correctly all the time.

— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 30, 2012

We shall see just how prepared Gholston is for the next level. In a draft full of talented defensive linemen, he'll probably fall out of the first round if teams have concerns like those noted by Russo. However, it's hard to imagine him as anything less than a second- or early third-round pick.