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June 12, 2009

Gholston works hard and humble at MSU camp

EAST LANSING - The Will Gholston Show was back in town, Friday, as the Detroit Southeastern blue chipper attended Michigan State's one-day June elite camp.

Last month, Will Gholston was in the Lansing area, dunking, rebounding and playing power forward at an AAU basketball tournament.

This time, he was wearing football cleats, playing defensive end, linebacker, tight end. If he had the time, who knows, he might have marched over to Forest Akers for a round of golf.

There is no doubting the enormous talent of the state's No. 1 high school football player for 2010. Perhaps equally refreshing is his dedication to constant improvement.

"You always think highly of yourself, but I have to listen to everybody else and see where I can make more improvement, and keep trying to be the best," Gholston said. "I don't want to be good. I want to be great. I want to be the best. So I have to work as hard as everybody else, or harder. So there is not one thing that I won't try to improve."

He was arguably the best player in the city of Detroit last year as a junior, dominating opponents from the linebacker position. At the MSU camp, he took some pointers on defensive end play, in addition to reps at linebacker and tight end.

"I thought I executed a lot of the defensive line moves that I've been working on, to help me have a chance to put my hand in the dirt in college," Gholston said. "At linebacker, I thought I was pretty solid; I'm kind of used to most of the stuff. At tight end, I've got to work on route running."

Many believe that he could play all three positions at the college level ... in one game.

His primary position in college could be that of a supersized linebacker who can move to defensive end as a designated pass rusher in passing situations. As for tight end, he could be the reciprocal of Kellen Freeman-Davis, who starred as an NFL-bound tight end at MSU but pitched in with two sacks as a rush end in the nickel defense. Gholston could be an every-down defender with the ability to help an offense in the red zone as a situational tight end.

"I played some defensive end as a sophomore, but this fall, there will be a lot more situations when I will be a defensive end, so I'm looking forward to that," said Gholston (6-7, 237).


On the back of Gholston's left arm is a tattoo that says "God's." On the back of his right arm is a tattoo that says, "Gift."

Yet he doesn't conduct himself as if he believes he is God's gift to the game. More accurately, the message seems to describe his appreciation for the natural talent that has been bestowed upon him. He is humble and hard-working. He hustles from drill to drill and values the wisdom of coaches.

"It's always good to work with any college coach of any stature, from Division III to Division I, at camps like these," he said. "I think I'm improving. I won't know for sure. I'll have to take everybody else's opinion."

Michigan State has had a high opinion of Gholston for a couple of years. But the recruiting pitches stop when there is work to do, as was the case Friday.

"Actually, it just felt like they were trying to coach me," Gholston said of his camp experience with the MSU coaches. "It didn't feel like they were trying to recruit me."

It was serious football, serious drilling, serious feedback. No fluff.

"They know how I feel about Michigan State and how I feel about the other schools," Gholston said. "Just like I'm going to the Michigan camp and I'm pretty sure they are just going to coach me and not really recruit me that day because they know in my head, as long as they are themselves and I can be myself, that's just a plus."

In addition to camping at Michigan, Gholston plans to visit three or four other major college camps.

"I'm going to the Michigan camp and I think I'm going to go to the USC camp," he said. "If the USC camp is this weekend, I don't know, because I might go to the Tennessee camp instead. I'm going to Ohio State before the end of the month. Maybe Florida. I have a lot crammed up."

What does he like about Michigan State?

"It's comfortable," he said. "I just feel like I can come up here with no worries and not even talk about football and just talk about being a man, and being myself and where I can improve, in terms of like my attitude or anything else. It's like they are kind of a family and I can talk to them about anything."

As serious as Gholston is about football, he values everyday happenings outside of football, too. He received a lesson in life as a public figure when prom pictures of him wearing a green suit and a Michigan State hat hit the Internet and led to an avalanche of opinions and speculation.

"That was hilarious, when I found out what people were saying," Gholston said. "You know, I had on a white suit, a green vest. I threw on the Michigan State hat because I was like, 'Okay, this hat goes with my suit.' I thought it looked nice. I figure if I had been wearing blue and maize, I would have had a Michigan hat with it.

"I didn't really think it was a big deal. I apologize for getting everybody up like that. I didn't mean to do anything like that; it wasn't my intention, there was no motive behind it."

He learned that there are thousands of fans watching his every move.

"You can't do all that stuff that everybody else does," he said. "You can't wear college gear without people thinking you mean something about it."

As for the prom outfit, he says his date chose to wear green. So his suit had to match, accordingly.

"That's my friend, she chose green, so I couldn't be like, 'No, I can't wear green,'" Gholston said. "I felt like, I'm still a kid. I wanted to be like everybody else and wear what I want to wear and put a hat on. That's all."

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