Competitive edge

There are many factors involved in developing a football team, but one critical area is nurturing a competitive environment that produces highly competitive athletes. Ole Miss tailback Brandon Bolden sees that happening in the offseason.

For junior Ole Miss Tailback Brandon Bolden, there's only one way to attack being a successful college football player.

Constantly and relentlessly competing.

Competing against your former accomplishments, against teammates, against the clock, against a bar loaded with weights, against your opponents, against the calendar.

"To develop a competitive edge, you have to compete all the time," said Bolden. "That's why I love what we do in our offseason program. (Strength & Conditioning) Coach (Don) Decker doesn't just get us in the weight room and tell us to lift weights, he makes everything a competition. It's fun and it develops the competitive edge you have to have.

"Stretch-weight room, stretch-weight room can get boring. Coach Deck breaks up the monotony by having mini-competitions all the time. When you get up in the morning, you look forward to going to the IPF knowing you'll get a chance to beat somebody at something."

Brandon Bolden, Coach Houston Nutt

Anyone who knows Bolden knows the versatile back is all about competition. For him, it's what makes the world go around.

"I guess it's in my blood, but competition drives me," he explained. "It's who I am. It's what I do, and it's good to see that competitive nature coming out in this team. When we have those competitions within the team, it means something to the guys on this team. We know why we do it - to stay sharp and keep an edge."

It's been well-documented repeatedly, but Brandon saw a competitive edge developing from the offense as spring training wore on. You know the tune. The defense was dominant for at least half the spring, but toward the latter stages the offense started holding its own.

"I think we have the best defense anywhere, from what I can see, and it's a challenge to compete against them every day, but I see more and more guys on offense accepting that challenge and getting the competitive edge you have to have," he noted. "On this level, you have to wake up every morning wanting to improve something that day. I see a lot of guys with that mindset."

Bolden's personal competition, if you will, concerns staying in the 210-213 pound range, down from the 218-220 playing weight he held his first two years and, as always, getting faster.

"The weight loss has made a difference," said Bolden, who is now 213 pounds. "I can tell it in my speed, my knees, my flexibility, my hamstrings. It doesn't sound like much - five or six pounds - but it's a big difference to me in the way I feel.

"As for the speed part, you can always get faster. I'm fast now, but I want faster. It's always my goal and never changes."

Bolden knows he has to be on his toes because the situation at running back is crowded, to say the least.

Brandon Bolden

Brandon has proven to be the most versatile, able to play fullback and a valuable tool in all situations, but Enrique Davis closed spring on a high note, Rodney Scott had a stellar spring showing, Devin Thomas made plays, and the scatbacks - Derrick Herman and Korvic Neat - both made enough plays in spring to raise some eyebrows.

"We're like a blind punch in boxing. You never know where we are going to come from and hit you," said Brandon. "We can come out with speed, power, quickness, slashing, receiving, blocking - I think we can, as a group, do it all. I'm excited about our group."

Until the quarterbacks and receivers can gain a little game experience under their belts, and the offensive line can gel, the backs are going to have to carry a heavy load, in Brandon's mind.

"After our first scrimmage in spring, I called the backs together and said we have to be the backbone on offense until everyone else gets situated better. Everyone agreed. We are down for it. I think we all had good springs once we realized what our role was going to have to be," he closed. "Once we started making some things happen in practice, the OL started coming together and the passing game started improving.

"That's just the way it's going to be and we are ready for it."

In the middle of the upcoming maelstrom, Brandon Bolden will be churning away, competing with every breath.

As he said, it's who he is.

OM Spirit Top Stories