Gholston looking to prove draft doubters wrong

EAST LANSING — Just one thing really surprised Will Gholston during the draft process that is about to end, and it was this question from a team representative at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis: “Why didn’t you go to Michigan?”

“I just laughed,” said Gholston, the former Michigan State and Detroit Southeastern defensive end. “It was the funniest thing I heard in the whole process.”

And your answer?

“I didn’t need to give him an answer,” said Gholston, who couldn’t recall the questioner’s franchise of employment. “There’s no need to respond to that question.”

Gholston is done answering them and has two big ones of his own as the NFL draft begins tonight — where and when? At 6-foot-7 and 273 reshaped pounds, Gholston has the physical appearance of a first-round pick but is expected to go in the third round or lower.

Of the three MSU juniors who left a year early — along with running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims — Gholston may have had the most to gain by returning to school for his senior season.

He had yet to live up to his billing as the top football prospect in the Midwest in 2010 and “kind of leveled off” while “showing flashes,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. He was powerful at the point of attack as a junior but not a consistent edge rusher, even though he led MSU with 41/2 sacks.

But that can be viewed in different ways. As Gholston’s agent, Blake Baratz, pointed out, he still has much untapped potential and the versatility to be a 4-3 end, 3-4 end or perhaps even 3-4 outside linebacker.

“Gholston, to me, is intriguing because he can play 4-3 base end and 3-4 teams will like him as (an end),” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “With his size and his body, I think he’s one of those guys, if he ends up with the right team, will be a better pro than he was in college.”

Is there a right team for Gholston? He said he has no preference in terms of franchise, location or defensive configuration. He visited the Lions but didn’t want to get into which other teams showed special interest in him.

“All I know is, if you choose me it meant you wanted me the most,” Gholston said, “and I’m gonna work hard to make it pay off for you.”

The U-M question in Indianapolis may have been unexpected, but Gholston expected plenty about his maturity, and some about cousin Vernon Gholston — the former Ohio State star, No. 6 overall pick in 2008 and now a consensus “draft bust.”

Gholston and Baratz believe those questions have been answered. If anything from the combine hurts Gholston, it may be his time of 4.96 seconds in the 40-yard dash (23rd among 37 defensive ends).

Gholston’s preparation for the draft has involved working out in Phoenix, Minneapolis and now East Lansing. He has spent the past couple weeks working with his strength coach at MSU, Ken Mannie.

He also helped out with MSU’s spring game, serving as “honorary defensive line coach” and helping Shilique Calhoun and others who will try to compensate for his loss.

“It was fun,” Gholston said. “But by the end, I wanted to be out there. I want to play some football.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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