For Luke Bolden, football is a family affair.
Bolden, a 6’2”, 220-pound inside linebacker from Colerain, Ohio, grew up in a football family. His older brother, Kyle, is a sophomore linebacker at the University of Cincinnati. His cousin Dan, also a sophomore, is a linebacker at the University of Toledo. Another cousin, Joe, played at the University of Michigan and is now an assistant coach at the University of Southern California.
“I think family had everything to do with football, to be honest,” Luke said.
And then there’s his dad: legendary high school football coach Tom Bolden. Bolden coached for 12 years at Colerain High School, where he led his team to the playoffs 11 times, including a state finals appearance last season, in Luke’s senior year. The elder Bolden coached Kyle, Joe, Dan and Luke at Colerain.
“It was an amazing experience,” Luke said. “He treats me just like any other player on his team, but he also holds me to a higher level, and he holds all of us to a higher level.”
Tom Bolden is friends with Miami head coach Chuck Martin, who has been Miami’s head football coach since 2014.
“My dad and Chuck knew each other before I was born [in 2001],” Bolden said.
But that only played a small part in luring Bolden to Miami.
“I love all the coaches here,” Luke said. “My dad really liked it here, my family really liked it here, it just really felt like home as soon as I got here.”
Bolden, a two-star recruit according to 247Sports composite ratings, signed with Miami last December. He could still be a senior in high school. However, he chose to enroll at Miami a semester early, becoming one of six early enrollees in the RedHawks’ recruiting class. Going from high school to college can be tough for anyone, let alone someone coming in the middle of the year. And then, of course, there’s the jump from high school football to college football.
“It was a little shaky at first,” Bolden said. “I didn’t know that much, but I had some players on the team to take me under the wing. Coaches have really helped me through all of this, so yeah.”
That was just spring practice. The regular season starts August 31, when Miami travels to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.
However, the real fun for Bolden and the rest of the RedHawks will be Sept. 14. The RedHawks will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats in the 124th battle for the victory bell. For the Boldens, the game will bring the whole family together, with Luke playing for the RedHawks and his older brother, Kyle, playing for the Bearcats.
“I don’t know [how it’ll feel],” Luke said. “I mean, the last time me and my brother played, we were playing together. It’s gonna be different.”
Bolden suggested that his parents may need to stand on opposite sides of the field.
“Or get split jerseys,” Bolden said, laughing, “that says ‘Bolden’ on the back.”
Even though the two likely won’t be on the field together, because they both play defense, “I’m just gonna try to get after him as much as I can,” Luke said.
With an older brother and two older cousins who are either former or current Division I football players, as well as having a successful high school coach as a dad, some people might feel the need to step out of their family’s shadow and form their own identity. But Bolden doesn’t think like that.
“Oh no, not at all,” Luke said. “I don’t feel that in any way. I don’t feel like I have to make my own name or whatever. My cousins, my brothers, they’re great players. I don’t feel overshadowed by it at all. I just go out here and play football and do what I do.”