Is Bolden Beholden To UT?

Demonte Bolden's early commitment to Tennessee was a big beginning to the 2004 recruiting class, but actually signing him may be an even bigger task.

Bolden remains committed to the Vols and yet — during a recent interview for a feature in Rocky Top News recruiting preview issue — he did qualify his position to the point one could easily conclude he remains wide open. He even suggested the pledge he made to be a Vol may have expired at the end of his junior year.

"You never know," he said. "I'm going to give them all a chance. I committed last year in the 11th grade. I could change my mind at anytime. It depends on the school and whether I like it or not. I like Tennessee because it's close and my parents are getting older and it's right down the street, but there are other schools out there."

Bolden maintains a mental list of such schools he can rattle off at a moment's notice.

"Really I want to visit Georgia, Penn State, probably N.C. State," he said clicking off the trio without missing a beat. "I wouldn't mind going to see Alabama, and I wouldn't mind going to see Michigan. I'd really like to visit Florida, but they haven't sent me anything yet."

The Gators might be the only school Bolden hasn't heard from given his rare combination of size, strength, speed and electrifying quickness in the defensive front.

As a junior at Tyner High School in Chattanooga, Bolden recorded an incredible 140 tackles from his defensive end post, including 28 behind the line of scrimmage. He reached the quarterback for 14 sacks and altered the blocking scheme and play calling of every offense the Rams faced.

A starter since his freshman season, the young man called "Money" is rated the nation's No. 16 football prospect in the Class of 2004 and No. 3 at his position by The Insiders.

At 6-4, 300 pounds and with 4.8 speed, Bolden could play either end or tackle at the next level. He's an avid weightlifter who boasts a 345 bench press and he performed an impressive 22 repetitions with 180 pounds at the Nike Camp. However it's his explosive first step that enables him to seize an immediate advantage in the neutral zone and defeat multiple blocking schemes with regularity.

He's also an intense competitor who keeps his engine revved like an Indy driver racing to the checker flag.

"Off the field my personality is friendly," he said "Once I get on the field I get turned on. I'd say I get mad. I'm always focused on getting that quarterback because he's going to beat your team. So it's like get him, and when they get yardage it makes me even madder. I want to go after him even more."

Bolden is also outstanding protecting the quarterback and excels at trap blocking as well as leading power sweeps as the Rams strong side guard.

"On offense it's about blocking for my quarterback," he explained. "He's the one that's the bread winner. He really pulls the train. He's the real roller. If I block for him and keep him up he'll get a score for us."

Bolden's bread is buttered on the defensive side of the ball where he can let his hostility run free and wreak havoc with a vengeance.

"Bolden is a demon on the defensive line," said recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy of The Insiders. "He lives in the backfield of his opponents and generally makes life miserable for opposing offenses. At just under 6-4 and pushing 300 pounds, Bolden has sub 5.0 quickness and has the ideal size to play defensive tackle."

Bolden prefers to play his more familiar end position in college and all the schools he's talked to are willing to give him that chance.

"I definitely want to play defense in college," he stated. "Some talk about tackle, some talk about end. I prefer to play end. I just love playing end. I can see the whole field from out there, and the only people cracking down on you are little wide receivers. Also, I like to come in from the blind side and hit the quarterback."

Any discussion of Demonte Bolden potentially abandoning his commitment to Tennessee wouldn't be complete without the other side to his story. He lives with his grandparents and is heavily influenced by his grandmother. In fact, he credits her with providing him direction and inspiration.

"My goal was to be best at my position because my grandmother always taught me to try to be the best at whatever I did," he said. "So that was my goal. I wanted to be All-State and All-American. I want to be the best at my position."

Bolden's grandmother also advised him to take visits to several schools so that he'd be sure of his choice, which may help explain his seemingly muddled mindset. In matters of action, he attended four UT football games last fall and was at the Orange and White game last spring as well as Tennessee's Senior Camp in June. He obviously likes and respects the Vols coaching staff and has developed solid relationships with UT's Phillip Fulmer and Steve Caldwell. He speaks with enthusiasm at the idea of playing before 108,000 fans on future fall Saturdays, and there's one more thing.

The same grandmother that he so admires, the very granny that advised him to look around — just so happens to be a Tennessee fan.

Editor's Note: This story is derived from an in-depth feature in the current edition of Rocky Top News. If you're not getting Rocky Top News, you're not getting the full story.

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