Defensive back/wide receiver Bernard Bolden (5-9, 185, 4.45) from Merced, Calif., is one of the best defensive back prospects out of Northern California this season.
Bolden earned all-Northern California, all-State underclassmen, all-area, all-district and was League Defensive Player of the Year honors as a junior from his safety position after racking up 63 tackles and four picks. He returned one of his interceptions back to the house for a score.
The multi-talented Bolden also played running back and returned punts and kicks.
Article Continues Below
From his running back position, Bolden rushed for 560 yards on 63 carries and nine touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown.
As a punt returner, Bolden had 113 yards on nine returns with a long of 77 yards and one touchdown. He returned four kicks for 172 yards with a long of 90 yards and another touchdown.
No wonder the first words out of Merced head coach Rob Scheidt was how Bolden makes plays.
"Bernard makes a lot of plays for us," Scheidt said. "He can return kicks, play running back and if we asked him to I think he could play quarterback, too.
"On defense he plays safety for us because we wanted the opposition to have to play both sides of the field," Scheidt said. "He probably projects as a cornerback on the next level, but when I think of it, he kind of reminds me Bobby Sanders of the Colts because he's a big hitter.
"Bernard is very good in space and has great instincts and closing speed," Scheidt said. "In his first two games, he picked off four passes and returned one for a touchdown.
"After the first two games our opposition stopped throwing to the middle of the field," Scheidt said. "I can only remember one other pass thrown down the middle.
"Bernard is definitely a Pac 10 caliber player," Scheidt said. "It is more of a question whether he plays safety or cornerback.
"Bernard is an outstanding all-around athlete who plays three sports for Merced," Scheidt said. "Besides football, he plays basketball and track.
Bolden also has bloodlines. His cousin is Kevin Bland who is currently at Fresno City College and is getting recruiting action from Washington, Cal, USC and Fresno State.
Bolden is getting early recruiting action from Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, UConn, North Carolina, Nebraska and Fresno State.