High school coach eager to watch Detroit Southeastern's Gholston play in Super Bowl

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Donshell English is traveling to Tampa for a once in a lifetime trip to watch one of his players live his lifelong dream of playing in the Super Bowl.

English, the head coach at Detroit Mumford, helped develop William Gholston while head coach at Detroit Southeastern more than a decade ago.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end and Detroit Southeastern grad William Gholston (92) during an NFL football workout Jan. 28 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Gholston, 29, will be starting at defensive end for the Buccaneers, trying to put pressure on Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes when they play the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs Sunday evening at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.

“I’m excited, I’m going to the Super Bowl,” said English, who planned on leaving Detroit Friday for a weekend of fun with his wife and some other coaches from the 2009 Southeastern coaching staff. “We started looking for plane tickets right after the (NFL Championship) game. I texted him and he called me back.

"Our situation is real tight. We stay in contact. I usually go see him at least once a year, go to a game, but wasn’t able to last year because of COVID.

“He’s just a wonderful kid. It’s what we want when we mentor all these young boys. We want them to understand their place that allowed them to shine and do some of the things that we struggle so hard to do as far as reaching kids. He gets it.

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“He was a great, charismatic kid, always humble and you know that by how he gives back to the community all the time. Even though he stays in Tampa, he always comes up here and gives a free football clinic and he also gives away turkeys for Thanksgiving.”

Gholston, who is 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, was a USA Today High School All-American during his senior year in 2009. He then helped Michigan State win a share of the Big Ten title in 2010, before becoming a two-time second-team All-Big Ten performer for the Spartans.

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Tampa Bay selected Gholston in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

So, what does English remember about Gholston when he played at Southeastern?

“The freakish build and athleticism, he was very coachable and he appreciated everything we did for him, it was just one of those perfect storms where he was a great kid who needed someone to help him and we were able to do it,” English said.

“He’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime players, I just happened to have two of them that year, Jonathon Hankins was the other and he’s starting for the Las Vegas Raiders.”

Gholston holds his camp at Mumford High in early June in past years for 200-300 kids, age 7-to-14 free of charge, English said.

“We try to find different ways to reach kids all the time, but when they actually see one of themselves in a situation that they’re dreaming about, it goes a million miles past something I might have to say, it becomes more tangible where they can actually visualize," English said. "It’s great to see how he works with the kids, he’s hard on them but makes sure they understand they can reach anything they put their mind to.”

George Ward, head basketball coach at Detroit King, was head coach at Southeastern when Gholston was a senior.

“We would have been state champs that year if it wasn’t for that dumb rule,” Ward said. “The rule was if you played in an All-American game in any other sport it disqualified you from any more high school athletics in the state of Michigan. We were the only state in the union that had that rule. He played in the Under Armor All-American game (that January).

“Believe me, with his size, athleticism and strength, we would have won that state championship in 2010, would have won it for sure. I’m proud of him. I’ll be watching the Super Bowl for sure.”

Kansas City defeated Tampa Bay 27-24 back on Nov. 29 in a game when Gholston made two tackles and recovered a fumble when the Chiefs were holding a 17-0 lead and driving at the Buccaneers 8.

The Buccaneers then scored on an 86-yard drive to cut the deficit to 17-7 and make a game of it.