Golston Has Overcome More Than Just Blockers

Redskins rookie Kedric Golston recovered a fumble against the Texans on Sept. 24. He has started the last two games.
Redskins rookie Kedric Golston recovered a fumble against the Texans on Sept. 24. He has started the last two games. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)
By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 7, 2006

Kedric Golston's senior season of high school began in the hospital, with him in a coma, fighting for his life after being thrown from his vehicle when it was struck by a car. His right femur was snapped, his lungs were filling with fluid and his hopes of a college football scholarship were in jeopardy.

When conscious, his mind wandered to his murky future. On other days, the medications prevented him from making much sense of anything. Suddenly, being one of the top high school defensive linemen in the country was of little importance. Just getting back on the football field seemed improbable. To think that five Septembers later Golston would be the feel-good story of the Redskins' 2006 season -- a sixth-round draft pick turned surprising starter -- still is inconceivable to him.

"I just honestly feel truly blessed," Golston said. "I can't explain it, and I'm not trying to. I just know I have God's blessing on me, and I'm just trying to take full advantage of it and try to stay humble and just get better every day."

Golston, 23, has thrived after entering training camp assured of nothing. He earned playing time in the opening game of the season and has started the last two games with veteran Joe Salave'a injured. Coach Joe Gibbs has said the rookie will become a "great Redskin," and Golston's sterling debut at the demanding nose tackle position has wowed team officials.

But Golston has been exceeding expectations for some time.

As a first-grader, he coped with his mother's murder in a robbery around the Christmas holiday. He moved from his home in South Carolina to be raised by his father and stepmother outside Atlanta after his maternal grandparents declined to do so. He has not heard from them since.

Today, Golston views his mother's death as a valuable life lesson. "God does things and works in ways we don't always understand," he said. "I hated my mom dying when I was younger and it was a tough thing to go through. But I got a wonderful stepmom who raised me and I've got a wonderful family now and it all worked out in the end. I was so young when it happened, but old enough to know what was going on and it was tough transitioning and moving to a new family.

"But I wouldn't trade those people for the world. I love them to death and thank God for everything I've been through, because I appreciate everything I get now, and I don't want to take anything for granted."

Adapting to life in Atlanta took time. Golston towered over his middle school classmates. Some assumed he was a bully. There were struggles in the classroom, too. A learning disability hindered his reading and writing. Golston attacked the disability in high school after realizing he was short of the academic requirements to play Division I football.

"He had to work twice as hard as 90 percent of the other kids," said Winkie Greenhaw, Golston's guidance counselor throughout middle and high school and a confidant to this day. "He had football practice and homework at night, but he'd be in my office at six in the morning to go over his schoolwork and he'd come over at night a lot, too. He's so full of integrity."

Golston was beloved as a gentle giant in high school. He stopped to changed flat tires for strangers. He made sure needy school kids had a small present on their birthday and once, when he saw a young girl at school whose shoes did not fit properly, insisted Greenhaw take $10 from him and pass it on to her anonymously.

The car crash came at a time when Golston was not permitted to have contact with college athletic officials, according to NCAA rules. But Rodney Garner, the defensive line coach at the University of Georgia, eventually was granted a waiver to visit him at the hospital. He was by Golston's side as much as possible, and never mentioned football. "He just sat in there with me for hours, just watching me sleep or do whatever," Golston said. "That really meant a lot to me."

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