Well it is finally here— Michigan week.
Michigan State has been preparing for a week already and Michigan is riding the momentum from a huge win over Northwestern on Saturday. At this point, the Spartans three previous wins are merely a thing of the past, and both teams are focused on what the implications of this game are for the rest of 2011.
But before we dive headfirst into predictions, point spreads and previews, it seemed fitting to share with you what one Spartans rising star had to say.
After a promising first five games defensive end William Gholston has emerged as one of the playmakers on defense. With the sophomore complemented by defensive end Marcus Rush, and standout defensive tackle, Jerel Worthy, the D-line has been a big part of Michigan State’s dominant defense.
Now Gholston is charged with the task of helping that stingy defense in its toughest challenge so far when they line up opposite to quarterback Dennard Robinson and the Michigan offense.
Gholston (2) hurries FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert (14) (Photo by: Jon Coffey/isportsweb.com)
So here’s a little media Q & A with a man who is making hunting quarterbacks a weekly hobby:
Question: What have you learned during the bye week?
William Gholston: Sleep is nice.
Q: How does this bye week benefit you?
WG: For one, we got an opportunity to not bang up on each other as much, and then going into a game we’ve got a little rest period when we’d usually be antsy and fired up. We’ve got a little time to relax and let the blood flow.
We also got extra time to watch film… We can focus on academics a little bit more than we usually could, so the bye week is great!
Q: Do you feel like a bye week gives you an advantage over a team without one going into a game?
WG: I wouldn’t necessarily say that because, say for instance they go and just, not saying Northwestern’s a bad team in any way, but saying if Michigan goes and just dominates Northwestern, I would feel good. I know if I dominated a team, I’m gonna be ready.
Q: So momentum might trump rest?
WG: Momentum and knowing, that’s like fifty-fifty. Like, if I know what you’re going to do but if you got momentum, its like fifty-fifty.
So it’s going to be a great game I feel. I feel like it’s gonna be fun.
Q: What are your memories from this rivalry during your childhood?
WG: I liked Michigan when I was growing up. I was a Michigan fan, to be honest. I know that a lot of people might want to be on the roof and snipe me for that, but I liked Michigan when I was growing up, you know.
Q: Are there any games from this rivalry that stand out to you from before you played here?
WG: No. I never really watched them all the way through when I was little.
Q: What was it about Michigan State that caught your eye?
WG: When I was in high school? It was the first school to offer me. That stuck out a lot — that was big.
It was like “Oh man I got my first offer, from Michigan State!” and then when I thought about it I said some other stuff, then I was like “oh” (laughing)… Then I got one from Michigan the next week and that was crazy too I was like “Dang, I got one from Michigan and Michigan State.”
You know Michigan was coming up on the rise. You know I knew a lot of kids from Detroit that came here, a couple guys from my school.
Q: You really wanted to play linebacker at college coming out of high school right?
WG: Yeah man.
Q: How big of an impact did that make on your decision?
WG: Its still a touchy subject man (laughing)… I’m a linebacker playing D-end, that’s all I got to say.
Q: What is it about linebacker that you like so much?
WG: I feel like I’m in a jungle. Like this might sound crazy, but you know how you’re in the jungle and you’re like a lion and you have to go chase after this gazelle, right? That’s linebacker!
You’re just sitting there, and you see the ball like “Boom,” and the guy makes his cut, you make his cut — first one to the hole, “POW!” you meet him at the hole. And you’ve just gotta devour him.
Q: So how does that change when you play defensive end?
WG: Well that’s like running into a wall, every play. I mean these guys are big fellas. I was like 250 last year, going up against 300 pounders. Gotta cake on some weight. It’s a different experience, I’ll tell you that much.
Q: Does that help, the linebacker background against a quarterback like Dennard Robinson who is the gazelle you were talking about?
WG: Shoot, I’m not the fastest lion any more (laughing).
But yeah, I mean… just being able to try to think, like I know how a running back would think, what cut he would make.
And Dennard is like a running back, quarterback, kick returner, punt returner. I feel like he could probably do anything on the team, he’s a versatile guy.
Gholston (2) on Spartans Media Day (Photo by: Jon Coffey/isportsweb.com)
Q: What did your grandmother mean to you?
WG: Man that was like my mom.
Every time in high school, when I had a good game, she like, the next day she would read them to me, the press clippings. And like me personally, like I would have already read them, but she would read them to me, and like she had a scrapbook for me.
She kept me level all the time… She was an extremely strong woman… She definitely didn’t hold anything back — like at all. If she felt like you did something wrong she’d be like, a couple words I can’t say (laughing), but she would definitely tell you. And she didn’t even know about football, really, until I started getting into college. And she watched all my games last year, even when I didn’t play.
She was supposed to come to the first game. That was a really emotional game for me. This season has been really emotional, because I was gonna try to get her to all the games.
She was my everything. Still is. But, God, I miss her a lot.
Q: Did she have any influence on your recruiting?
WG: Yeah, I mean that was definitely a big deal. That’s why I was liking Michigan and Michigan State, because I wanted her to come to the games and I wanted to be able to come home and talk to her on breaks and stuff.
I remember I cooked her like Thanksgiving dinner my senior year. I cooked thanksgiving dinner at her house and I was like “yeah I’m just going to stay here,” so we could keep talking and bonding because I talked to her a lot.
But I’d rather change the subject too, before I get all crying and stuff.
Q: You were a five-star recruit. How much pressure is that?
WG: Pressure makes diamonds baby!
Q: Is there now pressure on you? They see that you’re the five-star recruit so they think you better be good right?
WG: I would make a cocky statement, but no, that’s not me… either I’m gonna be a diamond or I’m gonna be a piece of coal somewhere.
Q: How did it feel when you got that fifth star in high school?
WG: Oh man, I was super ecstatic. I was a little mad that I was no. 21 in the nation maybe, but… I felt like I should’ve been top five. That was my goal, to be top five. When I met my high school defensive coordinator, he told me “We’re gonna make you top 25 in the country.” And he definitely did. He said “We’re gonna make you no. 1 in the state, and you’re gonna be top 25 in the country.” And he made those true.
Gholston (2) and Chris McDonald (62) celebrate with the team after a win (Photo by: Jon Coffey/isportsweb.com)
Q: Walk me through when you went into the tux shop for prom to get your green and white tux.
WG: Oh man, you’re talking about my junior year. That was crazy. I was like “Shoot, I don’t know what color I’m gonna get.” And the girl showed me a picture of her colors and I was like “are you sure you want me to get green and white?… There’s gonna be some controversy behind this.” And I was like “Don’t put no pictures of us on the internet.” Next thing I know there’s like 30 pictures of us going to prom on the Internet. I’m like “oh whatever,” and then I’m wearing a Michigan State hat, because I wanted to wear a hat — that wasn’t planned at all. At that time I was really big on some other schools. But I guess it worked out for the best.