WEST MONROE, LA (KTVE/KARD) – For Slade Bolden, the 2017-18 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Louisiana, the journey started here in West Monroe. Slade tells me that what was learned here at Rebel Stadium, helped him succeed at Bryant-Denny Stadium for one of the best college football programs in the country.
“You know, playing at West Monroe, it really helped me coming here because there are a lot of similarities between my high school and Alabama. We are very disciplined, we wore the same clothes when we worked out, little stuff like we couldn’t wear arm sleeves, had to wear calf high white socks, and everything was just tradition, culture, discipline oriented, that’s why we were successful, that’s why we did well.” Bolden said.
Listed at 5’11,194 pounds Slade is not the biggest receiver in the country or on his team. In fact, he’s more on the smaller end for Division I receivers, but he says that all the outside noise from others gets drowned out, and all that matters is the confidence you have in yourself.
“No matter how big you are, how fast you are, what position you play, you can’t let anyone tell you what you can be, because I had plenty of people tell me I wouldn’t come here, I had someone tell me I wasn’t going to get a set of pads here.” Bolden tells me.
For a guy who “Was not supposed to get a set of pads” at the University of Alabama, Slade has made quite the name for himself in T-Town. The junior has hauled in 46 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns in his career.
Bolden’s first touchdown reception came at what you might call a pretty big moment. When was it you ask? Oh just in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship game against Ohio State.
“That moment was such a great moment, my family was there. It could not have been a better story book ending to that season. I tried not to think about it until after the fact. I had buddies coming up to me like oh we’re going to celebrate tonight and I was like not yet not yet., we still have another quarter to play cause I think it was either end of the third or beginning of the fourth so I was trying not to think about it but on the inside I was like oh thank you God, this is a great moment.” Bolden says.
As a quarterback mainly at West Monroe, it took some time for Bolden to become acclimated to the receiver position. But when you surround yourself with NFL talent at the position like Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, you pick up on tendencies that make you successful.
“To be in a room like that, I’m thankful that I decided to come here because you know I could have went somewhere else and started all four years or maybe had to redshirt one year and start the rest but coming here was so much more beneficial for me because I was able to see some of the best receivers in the country and see how they worked.”