EAST LANSING - Michigan State concluded Day 3 of the NFL Draft with two more Spartans being selected.
Junior defensive end William Gholston and tight end Dion Sims were selected in the fourth round - Gholston by Tampa Bay and Sims by the Miami Dolphins.
They join Le'Veon Bell as 2013 NFL Draft picks. Bell was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round on Friday.
Michigan State is joined by Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas & USC as the only programs with at least one draft choice for 47 consecutive years, since the draft's inception in 1967.
In somewhat of a surprise, two-time, first-team All-Big Ten cornerback Johnny Adams went undrafted. He signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent.
Sims went as the No. 106 overall selection. Gholston was No. 126 overall.
Sims announced his decision to forgo his senior season at Michigan State on Jan. 3.
Sims tied for third on the team with 36 receptions for 475 yards (13.2 avg.) and two scores.
"I was just excited to hear my name called and get the phone call," Sims said. "I just jumped out of my seat and my family was here with me, so it was an exciting moment for us.
"The Dolphins liked my blocking skills, and with my size and weight, they believe I can make things happen in the passing game too," Sims said. "There have been a lot of anxious moments, sitting by the phone. I'm excited about my selection and I'm looking forward to getting to work and learning the playbook.
"I'm excited," Sims said. "On the call, I had a chance to visit with Coach (Joe) Philbin, the General Manager Jeff Ireland and tight ends coach Dan Campbell. I was actually down there training for the combine, so I am familiar with the area. (Tight Ends) Coach Dan Campbell is a great guy. We have spent a lot of time together. He actually played in the league; just being able to learn from him, a guy that actually has experience competing in the league. I feel like I learned a lot from him. In talking to Coach Philbin and Jeff Ireland, they are great people. Miami is where it's at. I am ready to take my talents down to South Beach. It feels good to be a Dolphin."
"Dion Sims is a big target with great hands," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "With his combination of size and power, Dion gains a lot of yards after the catch because he's so difficult to tackle. He can serve as both a stationary and motion tight end. Dion also can be flexed out where he adds yet another dimension to the offense. In addition, he has worked hard to improve as a run-blocker."
Congrats to W.Gholston on his 4th Rd Pick to Tampa.He will be a GREAT one. Thks for his trust and effort thepast 3 yrs @ MSU #BUC'sfan- Mark Dantonio (@DantonioMark) April 27, 2013
Congrats to Dion Sims & the Dolphins on his 4th Rd /106th overall pick in the NFL draft.Athletic / Great hands Big #Dolphin'sfans- Mark Dantonio (@DantonioMark) April 27, 2013
Sims' 36 receptions are tied for the third-highest single-season total by a Spartan tight end, trailing only Chris Baker who had 40 catches in 2001 and 38 in 1999.
He had three catches for 24 yards against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, including his 14-yard reception from Connor Cook on MSU's final scoring drive that helped set up Dan Conroy's 47-yard game-winning field goal.
Sims' additional comments on being drafted, Saturday:
On his previous relationship with the Miami Dolphins:
"I actually met with them at the combine and they brought me in for a visit. I saw a lot of interest there and they had a lot of interest in me."
On the Dolphins' depth chart:
"I am not really familiar with their depth chart right now, but I know last year they had Michael Egnew and they just signed (Dustin) Keller. I am just ready to go in and compete, and just learn as much as I can over the next few weeks and get ready for mini camp, then get ready for training camp. I am just going in with the mindset to learn as much as I can and prove that I am a player."
On being a blocking tight end vs. an all-around tight end in the NFL:
"That's fine with me. If they want me to an in-line blocker, that's cool. I am going to be an all-around tight end. I am going to project my craft, whether that's blocking or being a receiving tight end. I feel like I can do both. I feel like I am an all-around guy."
On his injuries at Michigan State:
"As far as the injuries, I feel like it was a lot of bad luck. I was 280 pounds, now I am down a lot of weight. I am in the best shape of my life. I am working to get into even better shape."
Bucs Knew Gholston Well
Gholston was happy and relieved to be selected in the fourth round.
"I didn't know what round I was going in, and that didn't matter to me," said Gholston. "I just wanted the opportunity to play in the NFL and now that I have it I'm going to make sure I take advantage of it. The level of competition in the NFL was basically the reason [I came out early]. I wanted to raise the level of my game, raise my level as a player, and I felt the only way to do so was to play against the best and the most elite players in the country, and that's everybody in the NFL."
Gholston announced his decision to forgo his senior season on Jan. 4.
The 6-foot-7, 278-pound Gholston earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media for a second-straight year after leading the Spartans in tackles for loss (13 for 49 yards), sacks (4.5 for 24 yards) and pass break-ups (10). Gholston also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in tackles for loss (eighth at 1.0 per game), pass break-ups (tied for 10th) and sacks (tied for 18th at 0.35 per game).
He led the Spartan defensive linemen and finished fourth overall in tackles with 59. His 10 pass break-ups ranked first among NCAA FBS defensive linemen.
Gholston's unimpressive sacks totals drew questions about his consistency from Tampa media.
"When the chance was there to make a play, I felt like I did and I capitalized on it," Gholston said. "But I also played within the scheme of the defense and we finished with the top defense for the last three years in the Big Ten and the top five for the last three years in the nation. My numbers may not have been that high, but as a unit we worked efficiently and everything that I did helped out my team."
The Bucaneers like Gholston's frame and strength.
"Will Gholston was a big, long, powerful defensive lineman from Michigan State," said Bucaneers general manager Mark Dominik. "Again, length and power and strength.
"We visited him as one of our 30 visits so we could really get to know him better and learn more about him. I felt that pick in terms of quality and quantity in terms of where you're taking him, for a player of that level is very exciting for our entire staff. The scouting staff as well as the coaching staff is very excited about continuing to develop him because of what her brings and the traits he has.
"But he's got the height, weight, speed, and skillset to go either outside or inside."
Bucaneers coach Greg Schiano has mentioned Gholston's potential to move inside to defensive tackle, especially in nickel situations.
"He's versatile," Dominik said. "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 30 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."
Dominik was asked if Gholston's lack of perceived consistency had something to do with maturity.
"It can be," Dominik said. "But I'm really impressed by our coaching staff and who we have here to make these players better. And I really believe in that, and I think you saw that when you looked at our football team last year, some of the strides a lot of guys took I think is tremendous and that's what give you an opportunity to sit there and say, 'here's an opportunity for a guy late in the fourth round that has all the traits and is showing you all the flashes, but just hasn't been as consistent as you want to be.' And that's part of the reason why he's there in the fourth. But at the same point that's part of the reason we were excited to take him, because we believe in our system, our coaches, and this team and be able to get the most out of him."
"Will Gholston anchored a defensive line that helped Michigan State rank No. 1 in the Big Ten in rush defense, total defense and scoring defense and finished among the NCAA's Top 10 in all those categories," Dantonio said. "He's an active player, who consistently provided a physical presence at the point of attack. Will has a tremendous upside and the physical skills to become a consistent playmaker."