Career Recap: Gholston was a Second-Team All-Big Ten pick in 2011. The sophomore first-year starter had 70 tackles with five sacks, one forced fumble and 16 tackles for a loss.
To end the season, Gholston played well against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Against Georgia in the Outback Bowl, Gholston had the best game of his collegiate career. He produced seven tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks, a pass batted and a short fumble return after he hustled downfield on a passing play.
Gholston made headlines for the wrong reasons after he punched Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan in the face last season and had a brutal facemask of Denard Robinson after diving on a pile. That landed Gholston a suspension, and he missed the Spartans' Hail Mary regular season win over Wisconsin.
A freshman backup, Gholston had 13 tackles before season-ending shoulder surgery after the 10th game.
2012 Season Outlook:
Overall, Gholston has an easy schedule to work with this season. There is no reason why he shouldn't improve his production now that he has a year of experience, and a slate of offensive tackles who are far from elite.
There are two tests for Gholston in the middle of the season that will be the best games to gauge how he can fare against good NFL tackle prospects. The first is when Gholston takes on the Wolverines' Lewan. The highly anticipated rematch between them will take place in late October. Gholston will see the Badgers' left tackle Ricky Wagner the week after that.
If Gholston plays well against Lewan and Wagner, 2012 could turn into a massive season for him.
Gholston flashed in 2011 and if he becomes more consistent he could skyrocket up draft boards. The physical specimen has truly a rare skill set with daunting size combined with some speed and athleticism. Gholston has serious upside and is just scratching the surface of what he is capable of.
The biggest thing that Gholston needs to improve is his pass rush. He needs to develop more pass-rushing moves. Gholston has to get more consistent about applying pressure and bringing down the quarterback. Gholston had only three sacks in 12 games heading into last year's bowl game before having a massive day against Georgia.
Gholston has the potential to be an excellent rusher. There are times when he displays a dominating bull rush and a devastating spin move. Gholston needs to refine those moves and it would be nice to see him add a rip move. He has rushed from tackle as well as end, so he has some versatility.
Gholston is very physical at the point of attack. The junior needs to show a relentless motor this year. He is hard for offensive tackles to move and is adept at swallowing up runs or working through the pile to get in on tackles.
Gholston has a nice burst off the snap and teams underestimate his speed. On designed plays that leave defensive ends unblocked because the offense doesn't believe ends can get to the back, Gholston makes the offense pay with serious closing speed to get on the play. Other ends are unable to do that.
When Gholston hits backs or quarterbacks they feel it. He routinely puts offensive players down hard. With Gholston's strength and weight, that shouldn't change he when enters the NFL.
One hurdle with the NFL will be the link to his cousin Vernon Gholston. The former Ohio State Buckeye and New York Jet was a notorious bust after being selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Williams Gholston doesn't deserve to be graded differently because of his cousin, but there will be some that overemphasize the connection.
Gholston has nice versatility. for the next level. He looks like a perfect fit as a 4-3 defensive end, but he also could be a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Gholston currently looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick. He has the skill set to be a definite first-rounder, but he has to produce. If Gholston can increase his production and consistently pressure the quarterback, he should be a pick in the top 32.