Hello: Joe Bolden

Submitted by Tim on April 29th, 2011 at 2:46 PM

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."



Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
4*, #27 OLB NR 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.

On to the evaluations. Starting with Scout, which asks Joe to describe his game:

“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.


IMG_2850.JPGJoe 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.


Scout has junior numbers :

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).

Yay, Joe.


None of the premium sites have 40 times, which means an automatic five FAKEs out of five.


ScoutingOhio provides an abbreviated junior highlight:


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.


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.



April 29th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

...MGoBlog Joe Bolden coverage in one convenient location.

Twitter reaction here.

Nation of Blue blog (Kentucky Wildcats sports) has this:

"I've prayed about the decision and God has told me in more than one way that the University of Michigan is my home for the next 4 years!" the junior said enthusiastically. He is definitely excited to be a Michigan Wolverine.

There will be many questions as to if Bolden will schedule and take other visits to schools, but according to a coach of Bolden's, he is all-Michigan.

"Joe is committed to Michigan. He is going to now focus on baseball and winning a state championship in football next season," his coach said after asking about whether or not he will look at other teams. He is a great kid. Of all the Division-1 linebackers I have coached, he put the most into his decision."


April 30th, 2011 at 2:33 AM ^

I agree that recent history would suggest Ross commits tomorrow. And if Godin is the silent commit, when he commits that will mean we need an OH DL to follow suit. I'm looking at you Chris Wormley (although at this point in the process Pharaoh Brown might be more ready to commit - realistically I have no legit reason to expect that either of these two are near a decision though).


April 29th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

You can give a little thank you to Caleb Stacey for helping Joe, as well. Stacey was on Bolden for awhile about coming to Michigan.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

The silent commit seems to be Matt Godin, at least that's the consensus. He definitely seems to be the one, considering the hints that we've gotten (In-state, defense). Welcome Joe, seems like a smart good who could really develop in to a good player. 


April 29th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

The more I read about Bolden the more excited I was about him going Blue.   He seems like one heck of a football player but also a great person-- someone who will make us proud both on and off the field.   Let's keep this class going!


April 29th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

Joe, you seem to be on better terms with him than I am--since he obviously guided you to the best decision you've made so far in life. But while you guys are talking, can you speak to him about a couple more recruits we need?


April 29th, 2011 at 3:23 PM ^

up much with OSU recruiting, particularly this time of year, but anyone have any insight why OSU hadn't shown much interest in Bolden or Ringer (who by most accounts are a couple of the top linebackers in the state)?

Are they targeting other prospects out of state who they think are better (e.g., Ross) or is there just not a big need in this class for LBs?   


April 29th, 2011 at 3:32 PM ^

They don't have a ton of scholarships to give, they already have a linebacker committed, and they're focused on a couple out-of-state guys at this point.

As for Ringer, there have been rumors (I may have even mentioned them in his commitment post) that football was not the reason for his lack of MSU and OSU offers.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

3.9 GPA.. damn son! looks like we got a fast, smart, good sized, and hard working 4 star LB and i think i like the way that sounds

Great work by Hoke and Co. Welcome to Ann Arbor Joe!


April 29th, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

Seems like a future team leader with football background in his family, smart kid, passionate.  Love the "Mattison effect" mentioned above.  We should keep that.  Now gimme some Ondre Pipkins and Noah Spence, if you please!!!!!!