The Robert Bolden Story


The last year for Robert Bolden has been a whirlwind, to say the least.  Last year this time, he just got onto campus.  He was settling into Penn State, and getting ready for college life.  Something that is very big for all college students.  You’re away from your family and many friends.  You’re starting a new chapter of your life, and for Bolden, that “chapter” was more like a novel.

The Beginning

Bolden was a highly rated QB from Michigan.  He had offers from Colorado, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan State, and Penn State.  Penn State already had a verbal commitment from an even higher rated QB, Paul Jones (Who was also an Early Enrollee).  In addition to another 4-Star QB, Kevin Newsome, who signed his LOI just a few months before that.  So the depth chart wasn’t exactly attractive, but Bolden still went with Penn State because he wasn’t afraid of the competition.  Quite frankly, he went with his heart instead of his head.

Fast forward to late June, Bolden just gets on campus and gets his playbook.  He’s already 6 months behind fellow freshman, Paul Jones.  Not to mention, Kevin Newsome and even former walk-on Matt McGloin have been at PSU for well over a year.  Just about all Penn State fans expected Newsome or McGloin to take the job, but there was a small group who thought Paul Jones would rise up during summer practices.  Not sure anyone knew what was about to transpire in the upcoming months, not even Bolden.

Leading the Team off the Bus

Summer practices begin, and we continue to hear of how well Robert Bolden is performing.  He throws a tight spiral, he has a rocket for an arm, and he’s picking up the playbook at a rapid rate.  Meanwhile, Paul Jones is struggling to grasp the playbook.  Newsome’s arm is still well below-average.  McGloin is doing nothing to really push himself ahead of the mold.  Everything was falling into place for a freshman who was on campus for not even 2 months yet.  People started talking, “Is Robert Bolden going to take the field as the starter against Youngstown State?  Is he going to be the one to lead Penn State off the bus”?  We soon found out…

"UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; Sept. 1, 2010 – Penn State coach Joe Paterno has named true-freshmanRobert Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich.) as the Nittany Lions’ game one starter Saturday when Penn State takes on Youngstown State in a 12:00 p.m. kickoff at Beaver"

It was set: Robert Bolden was your Quarterback for the 2010 season.  Questions started coming, how would he perform?  Well, to be totally honest, he exceeded expectations against YSU.  He went 20-29, throwing for 239 yards, while adding 2 TDs/1INT.  But next up was Alabama, which didn’t prove to be as gratifying.  That isn’t to say he performed poorly, it was his first career road start at Alabama in a very hostile environment.  He did a lot of good things.  He lead the team down into FG range a few times, and he had the beautiful throw to Derek Moye along the sideline.  But still, he made mental mistakes, much expected of a true freshman.

The next four games were more ups and downs.  In the Kent State and Temple games, he lead Penn State to wins, not to mention the 96 yard drive in the Temple game.  The Iowa game, once again, showed some good things and bad things.  Then came the Illinois game, easily his worst game at Penn State, going 8-21 in an embarrassing Homecoming loss.  But once again, some good did come out of that.  Next week, on the road, we saw Bolden bounce back against Minnesota.  11-13, 130 yards, and 1 TD, and that was only into the middle of the 2nd QTR.  Obviously, we know what happens next…Bolden gets injured, McGloin leads the the team to victories against Minnesota and then Michigan.

Meet Mr. McGloin

Finally, Bolden returns against Northwestern.  His first series, he leads the team down the field, only to get stuffed on 4th Down.  On the second series, Bolden gets sacked and fumbles the ball.  After that, Bolden gets benched in favor of McGloin.  McGloin certainly didn’t light the world on fire in his first three series, but yet, McGloin was kept in and the rest is history.  Obviously, it was the right decision to keep in McGloin.  Now, the job is his.  Bolden is relegated to backup duties, hoping to eventually win his job back.

Go ahead to the Outback Bowl, where McGloin is struggling, to say the least.  Interception after interception, McGloin keeps trotting out there, while Bolden sits on the bench.  We all know how it ends, 17-41 with 5 INTs.  Bolden never sniffs playing time, and a few days later we get the news:

"Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden will transfer out of the Penn State football program, according to his father Robert Bolden. Reached by phone in Tampa where he is still staying with his son before flying home to Detroit, Mr. Bolden said the transfer is “100 percent sure as far as I’m concerned and Rob feels the same way.”-David Jones, The Patriot News"

Transfer to (probable) Starter

So the man who was named the starting QB four months earlier is now transferring, right?  Well, not exactly.  During the meeting, Joe Paterno said he won’t release Rob, and nothing will change his mind.  Bolden does return to campus, but still says he could transfer after the semester.  All throughout the winter and spring, Rob says he isn’t exactly sure if he’s staying.  Even in late June, no one knew whether Bolden would come back to campus for the summer semester.  Well obviously he did, and that brings us to now.

A year later, Bolden is still here even after being through so much.  I think it’s safe to say, Bolden is stronger and ready for anything.  He’s back to win to the Quarterback job, and hopefully lead this team to success.  It’s his time to prove that he is the best QB for Penn State, and I know I’m excited to see what he will do.