Bolden Looking to Bloom This Spring

When junior receiver Chris Henry declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft just minutes after the Gator Bowl, it wasn't a surprise. For the first time though, Mountaineer fans were left with the reality that there would be just a couple of receivers coming back that had ever played a down in college football.

One of those receivers was Brandon Myles, who caught the first pass of the season, then a touchdown against Central Florida, and seemingly disappeared for the rest of the season. Dwayne Thompson, who broke into the rotation late in the year, was a converted quarterback, and is spending this spring back behind center. Joe Hunter wasn't even moved to receiver until fall camp last year. And then there's the big guy, Rayshawn Bolden.

Perhaps no other Mountaineer player will be under the microscope of the coaching staff as much as Bolden. He's shown flashes of being a good player in the past, but has yet to put his size and speed together. This spring though, he looks to be taking form.

"We don't have very many veterans at receiver. He's a talented guy, and he's had a great off-season," said head coach Rich Rodriguez. "He needs to be committed to be a better player and a better leader.

"He's played a lot of football for us in the past, and started a few games. We're excited for him."

Bolden sees this spring as an opportunity to show what he can do.

"I want to come out here everyday, practice hard, catch a few balls, and make the team as best as we can make it," says the 6'5" Bolden.

Bolden started a couple of games in the 2003 season, and had one catch against Pitt. Last season, he fell off the radar and didn't dress the first few games, but began to pick it up around mid-season. He showed what he could do in the Gator Bowl by hauling in a 49 yard strike from Charles Hales. During Monday's practice at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility, Bolden outjumped cornerback Dee McCann, caught the ball, and sprinted into the endzone for a long touchdown during drills.

In Coach Rod's eyes, a lot of the offensive success will rest squarely on the broad shoulders of Rayshawn, and Brandon Myles.

"For us to be good at receiver it's probably going to rely on Brandon Myles and Ray Bolden to be two big play guys for us."

Adds Bolden, "We did lose a lot of big name guys, but we have a lot of guys ready to step up."

If he can do just that, the Mountaineer offense will be the better for it when the season rolls around.

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