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UM’s Bolden reinvents himself as NFL prospect

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Joe Bolden

Ann Arbor – Joe Bolden, a Michigan linebacker and co-captain last season, is happy to reinvent himself as a player if that’s what it will take to play in the NFL.

Bolden, who participated in Michigan’s pro day Friday, has worked out at fullback and has even practiced long-snapping the last three months to make himself more versatile.

“I’m trying to make myself as appetizing as possible and people will see the value in taking a guy like me,” Bolden said after his workout. “Hopefully somebody likes me enough.

“So far, whoever sees me work out, it’s been good feedback. That’s where a lot of teams will get their main opinion on how I play, how smooth I am and how versatile – special teams, fullback, linebacker --wherever you need me, really.”

Bolden, who grew up in Cincinnati and has wanted to be a pro football player since he was 4 years old, believes he will make an NFL team.

“No doubt,” he said. “I’m going to be playing football next year.

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“It’s a confidence. If you don’t believe you’re going to be playing football next year, what’s the point of working out now? It’s been one heck of a journey. Just transforming my body, my mind and trying to make something I love and that I’ve played since I was 4 years old my profession. I have full confidence somebody on the 32 teams will like me. All I need to do is get on a football field and I’ll prove to them they made a good investment.”

As a little league football player, Bolden played in the Bengals’ former residence, Riverfront Stadium.

“(I remember) looking around like, ‘Oh my God, this is awesome. I want to play here,’” Bolden said. “I don’t care where it is. Just give me a helmet and a uniform and an opportunity.”

‘Better than expected’

Fullback Joe Kerridge went through regular combine drills – bench press, shuttles, cone drills and position work – during pro day and said he had personal bests in every measured drill.

“It was a really exciting day,” said Kerridge, who did not have his official numbers on Friday. “Everything went better than I expected.”

Kerridge, a co-captain last season, said he has had good responses from NFL teams.

“It’s going really well leading up to this point,” he said. “I was limited during the beginning of the season (ankle) so there was a question mark there. I excelled today and it really helped me out.”

High praise for new DC

Bolden has talked to Michigan’s new defensive coordinator Don Brown several times and has been impressed.

“I love his mustache,” Bolden said, laughing.

At the East-West Shrine Game, Bolden met a former nose guard at Boston College, where Brown last year built the nation’s top-rated defense, and heard nothing but high acclaim for Brown.

“He’s like, ‘Dude, playing for him was awesome,’” Bolden said. “Unfortunately, I’m a year late. He goes, ‘Dude, we just got after guys, blowing guys back off the ball.’”