Posted: Sat January 5, 2013 8:27PM; Updated: Sat January 5, 2013 8:27PM

Michigan State DE Gholston turning pro

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William Gholston was named the defensive player of the game after Michigan State's win in the Buffalo WIld Wings Bowl.
William Gholston was named the defensive player of the game after Michigan State's win in the Buffalo WIld Wings Bowl.
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State defensive end William Gholston is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

"While I know I still have a great deal to accomplish, I am very excited about the challenges that the future holds and I promise to always represent the university with class, dignity and professionalism," Gholston said in an open letter released through the school. "From Coach (Mark) Dantonio, to our entire staff, to my incredible teammates, to each of you unbelievable fans that back us each and every day, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Gholston is one of three Michigan State underclassman to announce his intentions to turn pro, joining running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims.

The 6-foot-7, 278-pound Gholston had 4 1/2 sacks this season and 13 tackles for loss.

"I am so grateful and fortunate to even be in the position that I am today and I know none of this would even be possible without the help and support of Spartan Nation," he said.

It's the second straight season Michigan State has lost a defensive lineman and running back early to the NFL. A year ago, lineman Jerel Worthy left and was taken in the second round by Green Bay. Running back Edwin Baker also departed and was picked in the seventh round by San Diego.

Bell and Gholston helped ease those losses considerably, but now they're leaving, too.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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