Rookie defensive end William Gholston got his first career sack — shared with Da'Quan Bowers — on the Dolphins' final drive Monday, helping Tampa Bay lock up its first win of 2013. The fourth-round pick out of Michigan State talked with Times staff writer Greg Auman about his Spartans, his storied history of playing in the bay area and looking forward to his return to Detroit next week.
It's scary to think Michigan State's defense could be even better if it had you back as a senior this season.
I've got the No. 1 defense in the country right now in college football. It's great to watch. I call everybody out by their first name; their nickname. I know the defense they're running still. I still know the plays.
I was actually up in East Lansing in September when USF played there and saw Shilique Calhoun score two defensive touchdowns. He's a guy who will play on Sundays.
I hosted him on his official visit.
Who are you closest to among this rookie class? There are actually 13 of you on the roster now between the draft picks and other newcomers.
It's a pretty solid unit. I usually hang out with (defensive tackle) Akeem (Spence) and (linebacker) Ka'lial (Glaud), but we all hang out all the time. We've got meetings. We've got the Rookie Success program, community service events, so you get to know people.
I like that your first football game in the bay area was actually at the Trop for the 2010 Under Armour All-America game. Do you remember much from that game?
I do. The game was fun. Not necessarily too fun. I had way better practices than I did in the game. I think (hip hop artist) Young Jeezy came and sang at the halftime show. There were Michigan State fans. I didn't think there would be any Michigan State fans.
I saw a picture of you wearing a Michigan State hat to prom. You must have been an enthusiastic commitment.
I did, but I wasn't even committed when I wore that hat to prom. I was actually leaning more to a different school. I can't say the name.
And then you had a huge game in the Outback Bowl your sophomore year, five tackles-for-loss as the Spartans beat Georgia.
And two sacks and a fumble recovery.
So when you got drafted by Tampa Bay, I'm sure you were excited you had already played in that stadium and had success there.
I couldn't talk. I didn't have any words. I barely answered the phone the right way. "Hello? Am I getting called?" It was fun to know I knew the stadium from the beginning, had played here, was comfortable with the environment.
You were born and raised in Detroit, so I'm sure it will be special when you guys play the Lions up there next week.
There's going to be a lot of people wanting to come to the game and a lot of people watching. I get to play as an NFL player at Ford Field. I played every phase of my football career there. Played Little League there, played high school there, college and now I get a chance to play in the NFL. (Michigan State) played against Florida Atlantic my sophomore year there.
That's right. It was officially a home game for Florida Atlantic … in Michigan.
They were building their stadium. That wasn't fair.
What Detroit team did you connect with the most growing up?
It's not just one. It's like all of them are the same. Tigers, Red Wings, Lions and the Pistons. I actually have tattoos of the Red Wings and the Tigers.
Got that tattoo before or after the last World Series?
Were you old enough to appreciate Barry Sanders before he retired?
I wasn't. First game I went to, I had a popcorn bucket on my head the whole game. I barely watched NFL or college growing up. I just watched cartoons and read books when I was little.
You're listed at 6 feet 6. When's the last time someone called you "Too Tall"?
One of the coaches calls me "Too Tall" sometimes. Whenever I talk to anybody from home, they call me "Too Tall." If I talk to one of my friends from college or high school, they call me "Too Tall." Not too many guys in here call me "Too Tall." I'm not the tallest here.
Considering your size, did Michigan State coach Tom Izzo ever try to get you over for basketball?
I wanted to. I went to a couple of practices, but I was doing box-out drills for them, here and there. I played in high school; power forward, center.
Your high school numbers in Detroit were crazy: 44 tackles-for-loss as a senior, 27 sacks, 10 forced fumbles.
It was probably more than that. It was fun. Oh my goodness, my last two years of high school were amazing.
Word association time. First words that pop into your head: Gerald McCoy.
Grizzly man beard.
I don't know. Napoleon Dynamite. That's Mike Glennon.
Have you adjusted to the climate here in Tampa; the warm weather this late in the year?
I felt a little like I've been down here too long. It was actually cold the other day. It's 60 degrees, and I'm cold. I'm used to it here already.
Talk about that first sack, how much it meant to have your first half-sack help lock up the first win.
It meant so much. I was so ecstatic. I finally felt like everything clicked. In practice, in meetings, everything's been rolling, but I haven't been able to produce the right way on the field. Just that one notch, it fills my confidence.