To say that Joe Bolden's visit to Michigan Thursday was a family affair seems fitting considering how he, his father, his cousin, and his uncle/coach were treated by the new Michigan coaching staff. As first impressions go, things couldn't have gone much better for the Maize & Blue.
"I had never been to Michigan, and obviously I had high expectations for them," said Bolden. "(The visit) probably exceeded them to be honest with you. It was pretty neat to see all the facilities and everything they have to offer. I got to go to the Big House. Plus, the coaches and how they interacted with me and talked to me -- they treated me almost as if I was already on the team. It was just a good visit."
During a series of meetings with Greg Mattison, Brady Hoke, and Mark Smith the Boldens were able to get a much better feel for each coach's personality. They also received greater insight into what the vision for the 6-3,230 pound backer would be should he opt to become a Wolverine.
"I was with Coach Mattison when we first got there for 25-30 minutes watching film and just talking," Bolden recalled. "Obviously he knows what he is talking about and he is also a great guy. He said more than likely I'd be playing the MIKE linebacker in the defense. We actually watched some Ravens film from last year. Ray Lewis plays the MIKE linebacker from the Ravens, so we watched some film of him."
"After that we talked to Coach Hoke, and we talked to him for probably close to the same amount of time. To be honest with you, if you met him anywhere but Michigan you'd probably think he was just a regular guy. He's easy to talk to. He knows what he is talking about. He has goals set for the program that are very good too. Overall I think he is going to get the job done and he is a great coach."
"Then we got to visit with Coach Smith. Coach Smith was easy to talk to as well. He talked mostly about the recruiting process and what's going on with that. Then after practice we talked a little bit more about the linebacker position."
It was during that practice that Bolden gained a better appreciation for how he'd fit in with the team, both on and off the field.
"Probably every single one of the defensive players walked up to me and at least said hi and introduced themselves -- as well as a couple of offensive players, including Denard Robinson," he said. "All the players seemed nice, easy to talk to, easy to get along with, and they acted like a team."
"It's not bashing anybody that was on the team last year or anything, but they looked a lot better than they did at the end of the season when I got to see them against Ohio State. They looked a lot better in practice today than they did against Ohio State. I haven't been with them every day, but to me they look like they've improved a great deal."
Such positive reviews of the visit experience beg an obvious question; has Michigan moved up the Buckeye State star's list?
"Yes, definitely," answered Bolden emphatically.
That, though, is specific as the talented youngster will currently get publicly when questions about a leaderboard arise. He remains focused on keeping an open mind during his recruitment and visiting as many of his suitors as possible. He could hit the road to visit another as soon as tomorrow.
"There's a possibility of us going to North Carolina this weekend, but that's not set in stone," he said. "That all depends on a baseball game."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Bolden in the months to come.