USC Game Personal to Omar Bolden

Omar Bolden on signing day. Who among the ASU and USC fans will ever forget that scene. The cornerback went on a Fox Sports Signing Day show, flicking away a Trojan hat before putting on an ASU cap declaring publicly for the first time that he will be a Sun Devil. Needless to say that the upcoming Thanksgiving night game in Tempe between both squads has the always emotional Bolden charged up.

"This is personal," said Omar Bolden while patting his chest. "I've been thinking about this game ever since I signed with Arizona State. A lot of people were asking me then ‘why did you sign with ASU and not USC?' Now those people are saying ‘you knew what you were doing.' This game is everything to me. It would be big even if we didn't play it on Thanksgiving."

Bolden is coming off a solid performance against his other hometown school – UCLA. That game may not carry the same meaning as playing the Bruins' cross-town rivals, but was nonetheless significant. "The game was like 20 minutes from my house," said Bolden about the contest in the Rose Bowl. "I had my parents, my aunt, my coaches, my friends all there…there were a lot of people I knew in the stands."

The freshman doesn't expect to have the same turnout at Sun Devil stadium nine days from now simply because "the game is sold out and I only have four tickets…"

One reason Bolden chose to sign with the Sun Devils was a chance to play early. Things have worked very well for the Ontario (Calif.) Colony product in that regard, as he started in the team's last six games. Bolden has collected 23 tackles and four pass breakups in his first year with the maroon and gold. With senior standout Justin Tryon playing on the opposite side, the freshman knows that they aren't too many passing plays by the opposition that he won't be involved in.

"I know quarterbacks are gonna come after me," he remarked. "If I was a cornerback I would also pick on the freshman corner. But that makes you a better player when you get challenged like that every game. I'm still learning the position (Bolden played running at Colony High School) but I'm improving every game."

A cornerback, let alone one facing high octane passing offenses in the Pac-10 every week, needs to have a short memory. Normally, that might be easier said than done. Yet, Bolden displays the same character that the rest of the defense displays each and every Saturday. "We're very resilient and that's all because (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Bray," Bolden explained. "He puts that in our head that we have to be resilient and never quit. He tells us that we can overcome anything."

Time will tell if ASU will be the favorite against USC, but they will enter the contest with a better record. Bolden has never been short on confidence, but his swagger should never be mistaken for arrogance.

"Regardless of their record USC is a tough team," he said. "I'm not bragging to them (his friends on the USC squad) about how much better we are. The only bragging you should do is after a win."

Indeed, it would be sweet to experience a déjà vu of a smiling Bolden in ASU gear, while having the maroon and gold faithful claim victory over the Trojans.

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