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 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.
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.
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).
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.