OH LB Joe Bolden has been openly favoring Michigan for a couple weeks, and talking about making a decision "at any time." Well, that time has come, and he is the newest member of Michigan's 2012 recruiting class. As he told Tom: "God told him in more than one way that Michigan was his home."
4*, #27 OLB
NR ILB, 150 Watchlist
4*, 90, NR OLB
Scout and 24/7 Sports both say the kid is 6-3, whereas Rivals and ESPN both think he's 6-2. Having seen the kid in person, I would guess that 6-3 is closer to the accurate number, despite my hesitance to trust Scout's measurement numbers. As for weight, Scout is the most optimistic at 230, 24/7 Sports says he's 220, and Rivals/ESPN split the difference at 225. We'll trust that average.
“The linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. I think I’m a great leader and communicator. My voice is heard on the field and I play smart. I’m also a big hitter and when I make contact I drop and go through people. I can also move well sideline-to-sideline. My game is not perfect and I’m always trying to do things better and get better at everything.”
From the horse's mouth, he's a big hitter and speedy player. If that's not enough, we'll take his high school coach's word for it:
"Speaking as a head coach, he is a phenomenal player. He can play inside and he can play outside at the linebacker position. He covers a lot of ground, he is smart, and he can make the checks. He is a thumper. When he gets there he makes an impact. When he tackles kids, they stay tackled. Plus he carries a 3.9 GPA and is a great man off the field. I think all that makes him a great football player and a great young man."
Now, to be fair, said high school coach is also his uncle, Tom Bolden. However, he echoes the same things: vocal, speedy, big hitter. Scout's Allen Trieu also talks about Joe:
"He has very good size, and he's a tough, hard-nosed football player," Trieu stated. "He's a classic, throwback type linebacker, but he's not just a run stuffer. He runs well and shows good ability in coverage. I think he can be an every-down linebacker and that's why so many schools are after him... Put that all together and he has a shot at playing early and often."
That's a raving review for a guy that doesn't even make Scout's top 25 outside linebackers.
He's also a multi-sport athlete, as ESPN points out that he's a baseball player as well.
Joe has the offers of a mid-to-high BCS-caliber prospect. Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia were his BCS conference offers.
So he doesn't exactly have offers from the Ohio States, Floridas, Alabamas, and USCs of the world, but "Penn State linebacker" is an offer with nearly as much cachet as "USC Pro-style QB" or "Wisconsin offensive lineman." This is a Big Get.
Joe Bolden finished [with] 90 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. He says he has a 32-inch vertical jump. Bolden may also play college baseball. He’s an outfielder (.300 batting average, three home runs).
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium sites have 40 times, which means an automatic five FAKEs out of five.
ScoutingOhio provides an abbreviated junior highlight:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Joe seems like a very good athlete, and one who is pretty polished as a high schooler. That may sound like a recipe for early playing time, but Michigan landed a big linebacker class in 2011, and already has 3 in this year's crop, so he might not be needed, unless he gets some special team time in the Brian Cook Memorial Wasted Redshirt Year. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
Following a redshirt season, he'll get that special teams time, and a little bit of time as a backup in the rotation. By the time he's a senior, I think Bolden could have All-League potential, and be a mid-round NFL Draft pick.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
That's 3 linebackers, after Michigan landed as many as 6 last year. Brady Hoke and company are probably going to have to start slowing down on linebackers and focus on other positions (or phrased a different way, they have the luxury to do so). They might be willing to take one more elite 'backer, pending the final positions for some of last year's guys, but it would have to be a truly top prospect.
As for the rest of the class, offensive and defensive lines are still priorities. A quarterback, wideout, and safety would be nice as well. After those needs are filled, they can really focus in on top-top talent regardless of position with the final scholarship slots.
You gotta think if Ross or Rippy or any other LB is seriously interested, then they're gonna be on the phone to Hoke or Mattison soon. And we may indeed see another (likely the last if not full arlready) LB commit this coming week or even this weekend. It's hard to remember almost that only like 5 weeks ago we had nobody committed. We're closing in on half full!
I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.
Maybe God mentioned 127, which Bolden could take either all the way to Jackson or to US 12 and up through Saline. However, I suspect God tends to fly, and there are regular flights on Delta at least from Cincy to DTW. Myself, I wouldn't recommend that, as the Cincy airport is actually in Kentucky and I avoid Kentucky whenever possible.
Between last year's class and this one, I feel far better about our linebacking than I have for many years. We're finally going to have guys playing linebacker who played a lot of the position in H.S. and have talent. The last 3-4 years linebacking have been pretty tough to watch. I doubt we can take any more this year unless it's a James Ross or someone of that caliber.
"You owe it to every man, woman, and child in the State of Michigan to beat the Buckeyes and silence their fans! Now go out there and make it happen!"
It just so happens that I was in Cincinnati last night and today. I believe my Blue Trailblazer with Maize Pinstripe and Block M license plates are what helped convince Joe to Go Blue.
Also, the most impressive aspect of the short highlight film was his read, react, and drop on the interception. He immediately looked up the receiver and recognized the route. Good coaching/good playing.
Welcome aboard Joe. Bring all your buddies.
"the Spirit of Michigan...is based on a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways....and a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours" - Fielding Yost
Best of luck to you on the football field! I'm sure we'll see you starting in a year or two. Sounds like you will become a great leader on the defense. You will also receive a top notch education at Michigan. It will be interesting to see what you decide to major in? Engineering? Pre-med?
Great news. Who knows where this class will end up being ranked but it's shaping up to be a good one. If it hasn't been proven already, Coach Mattison's effect on recruiting is invaluable (obvious statement is obvious). Once we start building up some momentum on the field, it will be difficult not to imagine top 10 (maybe even top 5) classes being a regular occurrence. I'm looking forward to seeing this class fill out...the first class is always important.
He sounds like a guru approved version of Jake Ryan - similar position and size, both heady white kids from traditional football powerhouses in Ohio who understand the position well and like to lay the wood.
We could have a lot of grit with Bolden and Ryan in our LB corps.