When Victor Bolden signed his letter of intent last February, there were a lot of people who said that he was going to be the next Brandin Cooks — just like many people thought Brandin would be the next James Rodgers. Those three players are related in Beaver football history by the flimsiest of common denominators by many fans.
They are all three under 6 feet tall, receivers, and fast.
That seems tenuous at best, but for a sport that never compares players across race or size, that is probably more descriptive than most comparisons.
But is it fair to compare anyone to James, who was one of, if not the, most explosive and complete players ever to wear a Beaver uniform? Watching James return kickoffs, master the fly sweep, block like a demon on the edge, and even take on defensive ends against USC in 2008 was what made him so exciting to Beaver Nation during his five years here. On top of the talent and unbelievable catches/runs, Beaver fans were also blessed by his unmatched leadership ability and work ethic. James left a surprisingly tall shadow for Brandin to follow.
But fill them he did. There are aspects of Brandin’s game that are similar to James’, but he is his own player and there are a lot of aspects that are pure Brandin. The place where the comparisons are accurate beyond speed, height and position, is that Brandin is a workhorse. His leadership and work in the weight room is all well documented and is illustrated by the changes in his body during in his time at OSU.
So OSU got lucky to find two players that are broken from the same, slightly smaller mold. As well, as having big hearts, big talent, and great leadership ability.
So to think lightning could strike three times for OSU was expecting a lot from Bolden.
The thing is, there are signs he is up to the challenge. Like James and Brandin, Victor has shown some flashes of what he could be, but really didn’t show up consistently until the last few games of the season. Like James, he really made his mark in the Civil War, and hopefully, he continue to in a bowl game. Victor has become a better returner and better receiver as the season has gone on. I remember the last few games of the 2011 season thinking that Brandin was really starting to come along and becoming a legit option at receiver. I feel the same thing about Bolden this year.
So what does that mean for Victor? I am not sure. I hear he is a hard worker, but he is going to have to be an epic worker to get into the same league as James and Brandin. Maybe he is, but time will tell. What I do know is that both players who made up diminutive but dynamic trio before Bolden blew up their sophomore seasons. So if Victor is anything like them in the offseason and if he prepares like he is going to be the next superstar, then it could very well mean that in the next year or two, we will place the unfair comparison on some recruit of being the next Victor Bolden.
And that would be good news for the Beavers!