|Joe Bolden has some unfortunate team colors, but we'll forgive him.|
Joe Bolden, a linebacker from Colerain High School in Cincinnati, OH, has committed to Michigan. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Penn State, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, and West Virginia, among others.
Bolden stands 6'2" tall and weighs 225 lbs. As a junior, he had 90 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions. According to Scout and 247 Sports, he's a 4-star prospect. Rivals and ESPN, both of whom are lagging behind in rankings, have not bothered to rank many prospects yet. ESPN thought about it briefly and put him on the 150 watch list, and Rivals put him on the 250 to Watch list, which indicates he'll be no lower than a 4-star prospect to them, either.
Athletically, Bolden isn't out of this world. He's not extremely big or fast, he's not particularly sudden, and not every play ends with an explosive tackle. However, he seems to have exceptional play recognition skills. He takes his one read step and then goes to the ball. While he's not exactly a quick-twitch athlete, he has above average coverage skills because of his instincts and awareness. Bolden also seems to have a top-quality motor with the willingness to chug back into plays that others would give up on. He flies to the football, makes solid contact, and wraps up ballcarriers.
The more I've seen of Bolden, the more I like him. He seems like a good kid and nearly has a 4.0 grade point average. He's just a good all-around football player. With his play recognition skills, I would like to see him play MIKE linebacker at 240-245 lbs. I think he has the size and athleticism to play SAM, but quick diagnosis is key for a MIKE.
Colrain High School has produced a fair amount of talent for Michigan. The most notable player for Michigan fans is probably B.J. Askew, a tailback/fullback who has played in the NFL with the Jets and Buccaneers. The Cincinnati school also sent running back Mister Simpson and linebacker Cobrani Mixon, but both players transferred after one year. Simpson is out of football, but Mixon was an all-conference player at Kent State and is hoping to get drafted this weekend.
Bolden is the third linebacker commit in the 2012 class, following Kaleb Ringer and Royce Jenkins-Stone. There has been some talk that Jenkins-Stone - originally reported to be headed for MIKE - will end up playing SAM, and Bolden might give the coaches that flexibility.
Bolden gives the Wolverines seven commitments now, plus an additional player reported to be a silent commit. The class is scheduled to be approximately 17 players strong, but that will surely grow in the months to come.
TTB Rating: 77