Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2013 Season Countdown: #30 Joe Bolden

Joe Bolden
Name: Joe Bolden
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 222 lbs.
High school: Cincinnati (OH) Colerain
Position: Linebacker
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #35
Last year: I ranked Bolden #46 and said he would be a backup middle linebacker. He had 31 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery.

Bolden was indeed the backup to the now departed Kenny Demens last season, and Bolden even appeared to steal some snaps from Demens against teams like option-oriented Air Force. Bolden did a good job, especially for a true freshman linebacker. That's not normally a spot where a freshman can be successful, and he did have a few struggles, but mostly he showed that he has a pretty solid future.

While Bolden looks like a future high-quality starter at MIKE, he seems to be planted behind junior Desmond Morgan for the upcoming season. Morgan was the starter at WILL last season, but is a more natural fit in the middle now that Demens graduated. Bolden's presence does allow for some flexibility; sophomore WILL linebacker James Ross will start there, but Morgan could bump back over to the weakside if there's an injury and Bolden could step in to start at MIKE. I also think Bolden could fit at SAM linebacker if needed. He's in a slightly unfortunate spot of being the classmate of a future star (Ross) and a class behind some established starters (Morgan, Jake Ryan). When he does get a chance to start full-time at some point, I think Michigan fans will be pleased.

Prediction: Backup middle linebacker


  1. I think Bolden will be this year's surprise starter week 1. Each year under Hoke there seems to be surprise when they trot out week 1. Morgan got a lot of press for making the switch to MIKE and no one really talked about Bolden. I think he comes into camp with a chip on his shoulder and takes over the starting spot. Also having Morgan as the 3rd inside backer I think helps more because he can rotate in at both spots. Where Bolden seems more of a true mike and Ross a true will.

    1. Not seeing him push for a starting spot yet. I kept an eye on Bolden during the spring game and observed that he is still slower than Ross and Morgan in his initial reads. I know he is young and all but there was a freshman walk-on (Liesman) who was reacting more quickly after the snap. Bolden will need to get over that to be a good starter. I am hoping that McCray and Gedeon come in and adapt early, because that would allow the coaches to experiment with Bolden at Sam. Bolden has the makings of a good blitzer and I think he would be a better player with simplified reads.

    2. The idea crossed my mind too, but I doubt it happens in week 1. Morgan has shown nice development, so Bolden would really have to elevate his game to push into a starting role. I think it's more likely that he rotates in frequently. It probably doesn't matter who starts as much as who gets the bulk of snaps.

  2. I really doubt that will be the case. Not only is Morgan a two year starter but the coaches really like him, he's a very good leader, and replacing him would mean having three brand new starters at linebacker.

  3. I'm intrigued, but not exactly in disagreement, over Glanda not being ranked yet. I know you had him in the 30s last year, and I'm curious why you've given him even more importance this year?

    As for Bolden, He's in a tough spot trapped behind Morgan. He'll just be all the more ready to take over as a senior... as long as he fends off Ferns.

    1. There will be injuries - there always are. I expect him to get plenty of playing time as the "4th LB" this year and next.

  4. Good spot for Bolden - a top flight young backup who will play meaningful snaps as part of a rotation. His role (along with James Ross) should expand with Demens gone. I agree that he is the 4th LB and therefore the top backup at both WLB and MLB. I also agree that Bolden would be an option at SAM if injuries strike (though I'm pretty sure you've previously argued otherwise Thunder, on the basis of size). Regardless - I think you nailed this one.

  5. My guess for #29 is Dileo