Bold(en) Young Leader at Cornerback

It's rare to see a sophomore-to be as a leader, but when that principal is freshman sensation cornerback Omar Bolden, who plays on the most inexperienced position group on the Sun Devil squad, it makes perfect sense. Bolden is the perfect balance of a vocal leader, as well as one who leads by example. It is a role that he allows him to display his swagger, yet one that also keeps him humble.

"I guess playing wise I would be the leader, but I'm also one of the younger guys out there," said the 5-10 194 Omar Bolden. "I want to be vocal, but at the same time I feel that they (the older guys) should be vocal with me because they've been here longer. But it's kind cool being the leader and being young at the same time."

He credits his leadership skills to what he has learned from outgoing senior Justin Tryon. "He always told me don't get worry about getting beat deep, just play," recalled Bolden. "Last year I was thinking too much. This year it's just ‘let's play.' That's helping me be a better player."

For a split second last Saturday, the future that looks quite bright for the former Ontario (Calif.) Colony standout appeared a bit murky. After fighting wide receiver Chris McGaha for the ball, both landed awkwardly. McGaha suffered a fractured toe that will sidelined him the rest of spring, while Bolden is somewhat embarrassed that he's was unscathed from that violent collision and practicing on Tuesday.

Bolden admitted that he was scared while he was lying on the ground, and that when he tried to bend his knee he was in great pain. "I stepped on the back of his ankle," Bolden described the injury. "It caused my foot not to hit the ground and I had kind of a hyperextension, but nothing serious though."

The cornerback is relived that McGaha's injury isn't a long-term one. "I could care less about (McGaha missing) the spring game," he explained. "I was worried about the season…when I was down I was like ‘oh my god…come on now…not yet…that's what was going through my mind."

In 2007 Bolden tallied 33 tackles, six pass breakups and one interception that went for a touchdown. This season he's naturally trying to build on the progression of last year. "I try to take off where I left off, hit the ground running and keep on going," he stated. "Everyday I have to progress and I think that's what I'm doing out here."

In the spring Bolden and his teammates at cornerback have been adjusting to the four wide receiver looks they have been getting in practice. The sophomore feels that defending those schemes is adequately preparing them for the rigors of the upcoming conference season.

"I think we're doing pretty well," he said concerning the cornerbacks' success against those alignments. "We have a very strong core of wide receivers. I really think we're gonna do some damage in the Pac-10. As cornerbacks we're doing well. Sometimes we'll get beat deep, but other than that it's just little technique stuff. Once we get that down we'll be straight."

Adjustment is also the operative word when it comes to the teachings of new cornerbacks coach Greg Burns. "He's been teaching us different techniques and I feel that I really improved my technique in the spring," claimed Bolden. "I'm not saying his techniques are better than Coach Simmons (who coached the ASU cornerbacks last season) but they fit me well. I'm a more physical player this year and I can tell that the intensity has really picked up."

Bolden will forever be remembered for making his verbal commitment to the Sun Devils live on a Fox Sports signing day show. During his appearance, he tossed away a USC hat before pulling an Arizona State hat from his pocket and pledging to the maroon and gold. He was accused then of being arrogant and disrespectful, but he has always contended that he's more humble than people may think.

Being named freshman All-American by both College Football News and The Sporting News, has obviously boosted Bolden's confidence in his ability and added to his already noticeable swagger, a trait pundits will tell you is essential for playing cornerback. Yet, those accolades never instilled complacency in him.

"So I was freshman All-American last year, now this year let's be just an All-American. I need to take it to the next level," said Bolden. "People ask ‘who's gonna start opposite me?' I'm asking: ‘who's gonna start at both corners?' I need to stay hungry and fight for my position. The only advantage I have is that I played more last year, but those guys want to start too."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories