September 5, 2008

Bolden, Davis feeding off one another

Ole Miss hasn't had the problem of too many running backs in recent memory. Perhaps the most recent time coincides with the Rebels' last winning season - when the Rebels had Vashon Pearson, Tremaine Turner and Goldie McClendon in 2003.

Even that season shows how quickly a well stocked backfield can be depleted. McClendon was suspended midway through the season and Turner and Pearson suffered injuries and missed playing time. By the time Ole Miss was playing Auburn in the latter third of the season in 2003, Brandon Jacobs, who had been shifted from fullback to take over part of the load.

Ole Miss arguably has the best young backfield in recent memory with the addition of five-star recruit Enrique Davis out of prep school along with three-star prospects Brandon Bolden and Delvin Thomas. They join former four-star Codera Eason, now a true junior, and Derrick Davis, a redshirt sophomore. The duo starred at Meridian and were much sought after recruits for the 2006 signing class.

One game doesn't a career make, but the trio of Enrique Davis, Bolden and Thomas had a coming out party on Saturday against Memphis.

While Eason drew the start, it was Bolden who stole the show with 76 yards on only eight carries.

"That's the great thing, we have a great stable of backs," Bolden said. "We're just like a band of brothers and feed off one another. Coach (Houston) Nutt wanted us to come here and make things happen, and we plan on doing just that."

In addition to the 76 yards, which contributed to Bolden being selected as the SEC freshman of the week, Bolden also ran a couple of plays as the quarterback in the Wild Rebel formation and completed a 37-yard pass to starting quarterback Jevan Snead.

"It was kind of funny because I wasn't expecting to pass this game," Bolden said. But coach Nutt called my number and I answered"

The pass also drew the attention of media, who asked about Bolden's arm strength.

"It's a pop gun compared to Jevan and the other quarterbacks," the true freshman said. "I can throw it maybe 50 yards, maybe over 50 from the 50-yard line. But I can't really tell you (how far he can throw it).

It was Davis who was expected to be the big star, and although Bolden had the better statistics on Saturday, Davis still made some SEC caliber runs including a second quarter one-yard one for a touchdown. Overall, he rushed six times for 24 yards.

"We did well as team," Davis said after the game. "We still have room from improvement, but we will get better."

Davis showed no signs of concern over being upstaged by Bolden.

"I feel however they want to use me is the way I want to be used," Davis said. "We have great running backs here. You saw what Codera did tonight, he did good. You saw Brandon get some touches and he did real good. Derrick did good and so did Deven when he got in there. We all got in there and played. We've just got a good bunch of running backs."

Davis, a one time Auburn signee, doesn't have any second thoughts about not re-signing with the Tigers after his Ole Miss debut.

"I'm so happy that I came to Ole Miss," he said. "Not once since I've been here have I wished that I hadn't come to Ole Miss. I'm happy I came."

While Bolden and Davis solidified their role for the 2008 season with the Memphis performance, those roles could shift in the future.

That could include seeing Bolden more at quarterback in the Wild Rebel formation and Thomas seeing more time, especially on special times and in relief of Eason and Davis.

"As you saw tonight, we're going to play all three," Nutt said in his post game press conference.

There had previously been speculation that one of the three freshman could be in for a redshirt season.

"I love our freshmen running backs," Nutt said. "Our freshmen backs are very physical and maturing as we speak. They got a good dose tonight."

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