Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
Razorbacks connecting with 5-star safety
Arkansas defense coordinator Travis Williams (left) speaks Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, with coach Sam Pittman during practice inside the Walker Pavilion on the university campus in Fayetteville.
University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams and co-defensive coordinator Marcus Woodson are double-teaming KJ Bolden and have the consensus 5-star safety planning to visit the Hogs this weekend.
Williams and Woodson had prior relationships with Bolden at Central Florida and Florida State before arriving in Fayetteville.
“They recruited me from the schools they came from previously,” Bolden said. “They just kept the communication with me and kept in touch and they told me a lot about it [Arkansas].”
Bolden, 6-1, 185 pounds, of Buford, Ga. has more than 45 scholarship offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama. Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas and others.
He likes his connection with Williams and Woodson.
“The vibe is great,” said Bolden, who’s expected to arrive in Fayetteville today and leave Sunday. “They called me in the defensive meeting the other day. Always cracking jokes. Asking how my family is. They’re real cool and they’re building that bond with me.”
Bolden, who was a MaxPreps Sophomore All-American, help lead the Wolves to the second round of the Class 7A playoffs as a junior. Buford had previously won two Class 6A state titles and a Class 5A title in 2019.
ESPN rates Bolden a 5-star recruit, the No. 1 safety and No. 3 overall prospect in the nation for the 2024 class. He’s rated the No. 1 recruit in Georgia.
Should Bolden’s national overall ranking hold at No. 3 nationally and he sign with Arkansas, he would be the highest ranked national prospect to ink with the Hogs in the ESPN era.
His grade of 91 would tie former UA quarterback signee Mitch Mustain in 2006 as the highest-graded prospect.
Bolden visited Florida State as a freshman while Woodson was in Tallahassee.
“He just keeps it real with you,” Woodson said. “I visited my freshman year, and he sat me down and broke the game plan and I was only a freshman. That really meant lot to me.”
Several prospects have made comments about Williams’ energy level in his short time in Fayetteville. Bolden is an agreement about Williams’ energy.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Bolden said. “He has a great personality. He’s always joking around.”
Bolden, who has bests of 10.7 seconds in the 100 meters and 22.3 in the 200, has a 3.5 grade-point average and is considering sports management as a major.
“I want to stay around football,” Bolden said. “I want to be a like a [general manager] of an NFL team.”
He has set up an official visit to Ohio State in June and is working to confirm other official visits.
Bolden’s coach mentioned Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ strong ties to the Razorback program which caught his attention.
“That’s definitely intriguing,” Bolden said. “He could probably provide a lot of opportunities for you. All the opportunities he brings to Arkansas, that’s really big.”
He’s also heard good things about the Hogs from class of 2024 4-star recruit and former teammate KingJoseph Edwards, who’s now enrolled at nearby Mill Creek High School.
“He said he enjoyed his time at Arkansas,” said Bolden of Edwards, who has visited Arkansas in the past. “He had a lot of fun. He was down there with the old staff.”
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