When the quarterbacks received a copy of Coach Bill O'Brien's first Penn State playbook, Rob Bolden knew it was time to get to work. No one faced a steeper learning curve than the quarterbacks during O'Brien's first spring practice session. Dissecting the new playbook could be likened to learning a new language. Bolden, who became the first Nittany Lion true freshman quarterback to start a season-opener in 100 years during the 2010 season, took steps forward during a fast-paced spring practice season. Bolden took the first snap in eight games during 2011 and has 16 career starts. He threw for 144 yards, ran for a season-high 25 yards and directed two scoring drives against No. 2 Alabama. He helped the Nittany Lions gain 16 first downs and 251 yards against the Tide's No. 1 defense, marks that were not matched by any other FBS opponent during Alabama's national championship-winning season. Bolden orchestrated Penn State's game-winning drive at Temple, completing a pair of crucial passes on third and fourth down to help fuel the 14-10 win over the Owls. Through two seasons under center, Bolden has demonstrated his athleticism and will continue to work hard to improve and try to earn more opportunities. Bolden was a prep teammate of Nittany Lion sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Preparatory near Detroit. He is one of three returning Nittany Lions from Michigan.
2011 Sophomore Season
Penn State's opening-day starting quarterback, Bolden played in 10 games, with eight starts. He was the Nittany Lions' starter and helped direct wins over Indiana State, Temple, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Purdue. For the season, he was 53-of-135 for 685 yards with two touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Against No. 2 Alabama, Bolden threw for 144 yards and ran for a season-high 25 yards on four carries. He helped the Lions gain 16 first downs and 251 yards against the Tide's No. 1 defense, marks that were not matched by any other FBS opponent during Alabama's national championship-winning season. Bolden was one of just three quarterbacks to lead a scoring drive on the opening possession against the Crimson Tide defense. He led Penn State on a 44-yard, game-winning touchdown drive at Temple, completing a key third-down pass to Devon Smith and an 11-yard toss to Derek Moye on fourth-and-two to keep the game-winning drive alive. Bolden completed 7-of-13 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown, a 71-yard scoring strike to Smith, in the win over Eastern Michigan. The completion was the second-longest of Bolden's career. The Nittany Lions got their ground game going as Big Ten play opened, including 231 rushing yards in the win over Iowa and 239 in the critical Leaders Division victory at Ohio State. He saw playing time in the division win over Illinois and action at Wisconsin. Bolden played the entire TicketCity Bowl matchup with Houston, throwing for 137 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown strike to receiver Justin Brown. The scoring strike was the third-longest completion of Bolden's career. He played a total of 344 snaps, including a season-high 75 against Houston.
2010 Freshman Season
Bolden arrived on campus in May 2010 and won the quarterback job in preseason camp. He became the first Penn State true freshman to start at quarterback in 100 years, with Shorty Miller in 1910 the last to do so. In directing the season-opening win over Youngstown State, Bolden was 20-of-29 for 239 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception in a 44-14 victory, the best performance by a true freshman quarterback in school history. He tossed 22- and 20-yard touchdown strikes to Brett Brackett and shared the inaugural Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors for his performance. He also became Penn State's first true freshman starting quarterback overall since Wally Richardson got the nod against Temple in 1992. For the season, Bolden was 112-of-193 (58.0) for 1,360 yards, with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He delivered four 200-yard passing efforts in the initial five games. In his first career road game, he threw for 144 yards in a 24-3 loss to No. 1 Alabama. He completed a 31-yard pass to Derek Moye in the first quarter against the Crimson Tide. Bolden became the first Penn State true freshman quarterback to have multiple 200-yard passing games in the 24-0 win over Kent State. He was 17-of-27 for 217 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, including a 55-yard strike to Moye. Bolden also gained 33 yards on just four carries, including a one-yard touchdown run and a 17-yard rush, against the Golden Flashes. He also threw a 48-yard scoring strike to Devon Smith. Bolden delivered his third 200-yard passing effort in the 22-13 win over Temple. He was 18-of-28 for 223 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions and directed the Nittany Lions to 439 yards. He led the team on a 96-yard drive in the fourth quarter, culminated by a Michael Zordich touchdown with 3:25 to play for the final margin. The scoring drive was Penn State's longest for yards since a 96-yard drive against Indiana in 2003. Bolden recorded his fourth 200-yard passing game in the first five contests, going 20-of-37 for 212 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception in the Big Ten-opener at Iowa. He completed a 49-yard pass to Brackett to set up a field goal just before halftime. Against Illinois, Bolden threw an 80-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to Moye, Penn State's longest play from scrimmage since the 2008 Michigan game. Bolden was sizzling to start the contest at Minnesota, completing his first nine passes for 115 yards, including a 21-yard scoring strike to Brackett just 4:41 into the game. But, in the second quarter, after directing Penn State to a 14-7 lead, Bolden was injured and did not return, going 11-of-13 for 130 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. He did not see any action against Michigan, one week after being injured at Minnesota. Bolden started the Northwestern game and was 3-of-4 for 43 yards, including a 20-yard completion to Stephfon Green and a 19-yard completion to Evan Royster. He played in the first two series against the Wildcats. Bolden entered the Ohio State game in the fourth quarter and was 0-of-3 passing. He entered the Indiana game in the fourth quarter and went 2-of-2 for 10 yards. Bolden was on the field for 407 plays, topped by 74 in the win over Temple.
Bolden was a four-star recruit for Coach George Porritt at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep. He was ranked as the nation's fourth-best quarterback by ESPN.com and the second-best dual-threat signal-caller by Rivals.com. Bolden completed 72-of-152 passes for 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns, while running for 535 yards and nine scores in his senior campaign, in which he led St. Mary's to the state finals. A team captain, he earned all-district and all-city accolades. He totaled more than 2,000 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for over 1,000 yards and 16 scores in his final two high school seasons. Bolden was a three-year member of the basketball team and a four-year member of the track team.
Full name is Robert Craig Bolden Jr. He is the son of Robert Bolden Sr. and Latonia Williams. He has one younger sister, Paris. His great uncle is former Alabama All-America cornerback Don McNeal, who was an NFL first-round draft choice in 1980, playing 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. In his spare time, Bolden enjoys bowling and playing the drums. Born February 20, 1992.