Bolden’s road to LSU a ‘blessing’

By Chandler Rome

Daily Collegian, Penn State U. via UWIRE

For most high school football stars in the Northeast, it was a tantalizing offer.

The opportunity to play under Joe Paterno, a living legend who transcended his sport and his school as he guided Penn State to unparalleled success in his 45 years at the helm, was an offer too luxurious for one Orchard Lake, Mich., native to decline.

Although Rob Bolden was courted heavily by other schools, including LSU and head coach Les Miles, one question kept nagging him throughout his recruitment.

“Who wouldn’t want to play for Joe?” Bolden recalled.

Bolden quickly realized the idealistic situation he envisioned in Happy Valley under Paterno wouldn’t come to fruition.

In 2010, after becoming the first true freshman quarterback to start a Penn State season opener in 100 years, a concussion derailed his freshman season, costing him his starting position and ultimately prompting transfer consideration.

When Paterno refused to release him from his scholarship, Bolden was hurled in the middle of last season’s catastrophe.

Allegations of child molestation against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky came to light, prompting Paterno’s resignation and leaving his reputation and the program in shambles.

While Bolden acknowledged both the crimes Sandusky committed and the subsequent cover-up by the now-deceased Paterno and other administrators were heinous, the situation proved to be a roundabout benediction.

“Penn State was a great place, and I appreciate everything they did for me,” Bolden said. “But I was looking to get out, and the way it happened was like a movie and it was a blessing. God blessed me enough to be in a place like this, it’s top of the line.”

Coming to Baton Rouge with two seasons under his belt, Bolden knows he has quite the mountain to climb before he’s ready to take Southeastern Conference snaps.

Miles, however, is more than happy to have a seasoned Big Ten veteran roaming the sidelines.

“He’s a guy who has taken some snaps in some big-time games,” Miles said. “He’s still a ways away from knowing exactly what to call and how to run it, but it’s coming. And we enjoy him.”

Learning a new offense and playbook, adjusting to a role as a backup behind junior Zach Mettenberger and moving across the country may seem daunting to some, but for Bolden it’s just another hurdle he’s determined to clear.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Bolden said. “There’s really nothing right now that you could throw in front of me that I couldn’t get through.”

While hoping to one day challenge Mettenberger for the starting spot, Bolden said he relishes the opportunity to learn from the Watkinsville, Ga., native and relies on him in his quest to immerse himself in the Tiger offense.

“[Mettenberger] has been the biggest guy helping me with the offense,” Bolden said. “Any question or anything I have, I can come to him.”

Mettenberger echoed Bolden’s excitement, claiming the game experience Bolden has will be invaluable to the entire inexperienced quarterback corps.

“Shoot, he’s played in more college games than I have,” Mettenberger said. “I can learn a lot from him ­— he’s been a great teammate so far.”

Bolden may not be fully adjusted to the heat, food or culture of southern Louisiana yet, but he shares one goal synonymous with both Tiger players and fans.

“I’m just hoping to get my shot at [Alabama] again,” Bolden said. “I’ve lost to them twice already, and it would be beautiful to get a win this time.”

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