Given Chance, Bud Golden Shows His Talent

The Fighting Illini came into spring ball five deep in running backs. It was a position of strength, but recent injuries have depleted the ranks. With Justin Green out with a broken ankle and both Troy Pollard and Jason Ford nursing minor ailments, redshirt freshman Bud Golden was suddenly among the top two backs. He asserted himself well in Tuesday's scrimmage.

Bud Golden was sixth on the Illinois depth chart as a freshman last fall, so he redshirted. He admits to some disappointment.

"Yeah, a little bit. I wanted to play, but I didn't get the opportunity. But it helped me get used to game speed and the intensity of the game."

Even though the Cincinnati native couldn't play last year, he had one vivid memory to sustain him until now. At the last Camp Rantoul scrimmage last fall, he ran hard and showed an ability to both juke defenders and run over them.

"Yeah, it was a nice memory. It really gave me confidence that I can play on this level."

Golden had a quick response when asked how his first winter conditioning program helped him.

"Conditioning. I'm bigger and stronger, so I'm expecting to play this year."

Knowing he has a chance to see playing time helps motivate the Sycamore High School graduate.

"I'm very excited for spring ball. It's the first spring ball I'm going through."

After the first spring practice, running back coach DeAndre Smith commented on Golden.

"I've kind of eased Bud into it. We're still trying to get Bud to work a little harder. I think he did some good things. He'll be okay."

The 6'-0", 205 pounder appears to be learning quickly. When given a chance in Tuesday's scrimmage, he responded by rushing for more than 100 yards, much of it against the first string defense. Afterward offensive coordinator Paul Petrino gave him some props.

"He ran hard today. It was good film. I walked up to him during stretching and said 'You'll get a chance today. Get ready and lets go.' He ran hard and did some nice things."

Golden actually prefers the new offense to the old one.

"I'm loving the new offense. It's kind of what we ran in high school. It's good. Last year we ran a spread offense, and this year it's more of a pro-style offense. I'm used to running pro-style."

What does Golden think of Smith as a coach?

"He's a good coach. He makes sure we know what we're doing out there. I'm liking him."

He was also asked what stands out about Petrino.

"His intensity. He's a good coach. I think the offense that he's bringing to us will help us and get us to the promised land where we want to go."

Golden feels he has assets that can help the team at running back.

"Probably my awareness on the field. My vision. Also my cutting ability and my speed. And I feel I can catch the ball well."

Even though he is fighting upperclassmen for playing time, Golden sees benefits to the competition at running back.

"We learn from each other. Everybody is better than others at something, so we really help each other. We all want to play, but the best person is gonna play. So there's competition, but at the same time everyone is helping each other."

Golden has noticed differences between last year's team and now.

"How we feel as a team. We're really intense right now. We all want to have a better season. We're working a little bit harder than we did last year. We're really being focused."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories