Bolden Embracing Role as Team Leader

Senior linebacker Joe Bolden has taken over as team leader this off-season organizing team practices and workouts. ... Read more inside.

CHICAGO – Entering his senior season at Michigan, linebacker Joe Bolden has finally found his role on the U-M football team.

It only took the hiring of Jim Harbugh to do it and this off-season to prove it, and that’s the role of team leader.

All summer long Bolden has led they way by organizing player led off-season workouts, which consist of conditioning drills, team 7-on-7 practices and various football elements.

A responsibility he took ownership of and explained at Big Ten media days on Friday.

“It’s a responsibility I guess comes with maturity and understanding what needs to be done,” Bolden explained. “Nobody likes coaching changes, the good and bad things at the same time. But taking on that responsibility, I feel that responsibility for my teammates. Going through change, facing some adversity, it’s going to be tough.

“My dad said, ‘It’s calm in the chaos. You may have five thousand things going on around you, but if you’re calm and get everything lined up, and you bring people around you, you’ll calm those people down regardless of what’s going on -- you’re working towards that goal.’”

Bolden, who along with fellow seniors Desmond Morgan and Joe Kerridge, has led the way ever since former coach Brad Hoke was fired last fall, says fellow senior linebacker James Ross III.

“From day one, when we heard we were getting w new coach Joe stepped up,” Ross III said. “He rallied all the guys together. He just made sure we all stuck together no matter what. Him, Desmond Morgan and Joe Kerridge, they made sure nobody fell apart or wanted to leave, something like that. He has definitely played a tremendous role in getting everybody together, and everybody understanding the team initiative, the team goal.”

Bolden’s initiative on and off the field has caught the attention of Harbaugh, who praised his leadership quality at his round-table session to the media on Friday.

"Pretty darn important,” he said of Bolden’s leadership this off-season. “He's somebody you could see right off the bat that he was a hard working, tough guy, very determined and just kept seeing it day, after day, after day and immediately started like him more, and more, and more. If he said he was going to do something, he did it. He shows up every day and he listens. He works really hard and does what he says he's going to do. Those qualities, where he showers our football team with that every day. The smart ones will watch Joe Bolden and see that he's added success with that template. That's what I think and I think he's going to make one heck of a coach one day. We'll be playing football for a long time here but I think he is going to be a heck of a coach, too."

Make no mistake, Bolden admits it’s not easy getting that many guys to be ready for practice, especially if it’s early in the morning.

“I think you got get guys together; it’s not just me either. You got to collaborate with a whole bunch of guys and get all these texts out to 115 guys,” Bolden said. “It’s definitely teamwork getting guys out for practice.”

However, if you miss practice, you better have a good reason, says Bolden.

“It’s got to be a legitimate reason,” Bolden said.

Adding: “Legitimate is class, your boss actually has something, and you’re on the work schedule. Legitimate wouldn’t be, ‘my girlfriend is here form out of town, and we’re having dinner.’ That’s not legitimate. Basically, faith, family and football, right?”

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