The Buccaneers feel they have found solid depth and a potential starter in former Michigan State Spartan standout William Gholston. The ability to play both ends, linebacker and even inside on the defensive line is something the Bucs scouting department found intriguing.
When Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett left via free agency back in March many were clamoring for Tampa Bay to replace the team’s top pass rusher with some of the prominent names available in free agency. Dwight Freeney was (and still is) available along with former Falcon’s standout John Abraham.
The Buccaneers so far have passed on both players, and others still available in free agency. Part of the reason was the selection of former Michigan State defensive end William Gholston who the Buccaneers feel will provide both depth and a spark behind defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers.
Part of the attraction to Gholston is the Detroit native’s versatility to play inside or outside along the defensive line.
“He definitely has the flexibility to do that,” head coach Greg Schiano recently said. “When you have the linemen we have, the defensive front we have now, you let them compete and then you get the best four or three depending on the front you’re on out there and go from there. But he’s got the height, weight, speed, and skillset to go either outside or inside.”
General manager Mark Dominik agreed with Schiano’s assessment on draft night.
“He’s versatile,” Dominik said. “Coach talked about him going inside. For a big man he plays with good knee bend, which is really important to win the leverage game, especially at his size, and he’s able to do that. I think that’s what makes him attractive, that’s part of the package that we really liked. And again we felt like he was continuing to grow this year. Although he came out, we felt like there’s a lot of potential still in the body in the young man.
“Again, he was one of the thirty guys that we brought in here, and [we] really got time to really spend with him from a coaching and from a personal standpoint. And we really started to appreciate everything about him, not just the tape that we saw, but what he can become we believe. So that was a big part of the selection.”
Gholston himself recently told PewterReport.com that he is glad he offers options to his new coaching staff.
“That is one of the first things when I converted from linebacker [to defensive end] in college,” Gholston said. “That is the first thing they told me to do, try to play left side and right side. If they move me all down the line that way then I would have the possibility [to play more]. I could grow; get bigger or I could get smaller.”
Gholston liked what he saw from his first few days of the Buccaneers rookie mini-camp earlier this month.
“Just get to the ball (is what we did in college and now here),” Gholston said. “Our defense (at Michigan State) was taught to swarm to the ball. Wherever the ball was you had to be. I did drop back in coverage some. I stood up at linebacker also. I was a redzone linebacker. Nobody really knows it because nobody really got in the redzone too much. I did a lot of different things. I am glad my coaches put me in those situations.”
The 6 foot-7, 278-pounder has been all smiles in interviews with the media following the draft, but those who have followed Gholston’s career knows the former Spartan is a different person on the football field.
“I feel like as a defensive linemen every defensive linemen has to play with that nastiness and that edge to them,” Gholston said.
Gholston has had limited interaction with his new Bucs’ teammates but is familiar with some of his defensive line counterparts.
“I definitely watched Adrian Clayborn in college when he played at Iowa, I really looked at him and I knew Gerald McCoy when he got drafted when he first got to Tampa.” Gholston said. “Those two guys are explosive. And Da’Quan Bowers he is also a double-digit sack guy before he got out here. So those guys are pretty good guys. Guys I can learn from.”
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