- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie running back Brandon Bolden is one of the most recent Patriots to beat the odds, going from undrafted prospect to part of the 53-man roster.
Bolden’s hard-charging running and solid hands as a receiver earned him the spot, and he has taken it one step further, also dressing on the 46-man game-day roster for the first two games. Five-foot-11, 220-pound Bolden has been one of the club’s core special-teams players and has seen limited action on offense.
Bolden, 22, shared his “football journey” with ESPNBoston.com this week.
When he first started playing football: “I really started playing my freshman year of high school. I tried before that, but I was too big to play with kids my age, so I just played baseball.”
First positions at Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge, La.: “Linebacker and safety. I moved to offense as a sophomore.”
How the move to offense unfolded: “We had a new offensive coordinator my freshman year, and he became the head coach [the next year]. He used to always mess with me, saying, ‘Can you play receiver?’ I ended up playing receiver, quarterback and running back, and safety.”
Why he attended Mississippi: “It just seemed like a good fit at the time. Coach [Houston] Nutt was there, and, of course, everyone knows his history of running backs. I also had offers from Alabama, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Northern Illinois and Baylor.”
If he thought about entering the draft after his junior season: “Not much, but I gave it some thought. I talked to my family about it. It just seemed like a better idea to go back to school and knock it out while I can. I wanted to get done as much school as I could. I only have two classes I need right now.”
Looking back on it, if he regrets the decision, based on a less productive senior season: “I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to look back and dread on things. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to take the punches when they come and roll with it.”
Expectations entering the NFL draft: “After the combine and everything, to be honest, I didn’t even set a goal for myself. I don’t even think I watched the first two days. The last day was my son’s birthday and we had a party, so the entire day I was with the cake and bubbles, then I was on the phone, then I was back with the cake and bubbles. That was kind of a stressful day, but not from the football standpoint. It was just being a dad [to son Brycen].”
Signing with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent: “Once again, kind of like the same situation at Ole Miss, a great history. It’s a great team. The fit seemed right.”
Thoughts on making the team: “A dream come true. It’s the first thing [for] anyone who puts on pads: I just want to make it to the league and make a team. It’s a great feeling. It’s a weight off your shoulders, and you can concentrate on straight football.”
Describing life as a Patriot: “I’m pretty much a quiet guy; I stay to myself. I’m here, or I go home. I rarely come out unless it’s an emergency. I stay to myself and focus on keeping my nose clean.”
His running style: “Downhill and get what I can. If it opens up, just try to turn on the burners.”
Playing on the four core special-teams units: “I played on two in college -- punt and kickoffs. So it’s not too much of a difference. It’s a different blocking scheme, but that’s everywhere.”
Favorite teams growing up: “Being from Louisiana, I’d have to say New Orleans, of course.”
Favorite players growing up: “I was a big fan of Deuce McAllister, Donte' Stallworth, Joe Horn, Aaron Brooks, Ricky Williams and all those guys. They were very explosive. Had a real good defense, high-scoring offense, they were real good.”
Role models in his life: “My dad [Michael] and my grandfather [Frank Pitts]. My grandfather played [receiver] in the NFL, and he played in Super Bowl I and IV for the Chiefs. My father didn’t go as far in football as me and my grandfather did, but he knows a lot about the game. That’s where I got my work ethic from. He stayed on me a lot.”
Watching old film of his grandfather: “Every time I go to his house. He still has film of both Super Bowls.”
What he loves about football: “It’s a kid’s game. All kids want to play it. For me, I missed that kids stage of playing the game, not starting until my freshman year. So I’m just a big kid.”
Summing up his football journey: “In 10 years, to go from not knowing a lot about the game to kind of just rolling with the punches and learning on the fly, I have been a student of the game. It’s been a lot of learning. Now I’m off the training wheels and on a real bike now.”