Cardinals should draft Stoney Brook receiver Ray Bolden
In what is considered to be a weak wide receiver draft, diamonds may be unearthed from the rough. Ray Bolden was a star at Stony Brook, being among the team leaders in receptions and receiving yards as well as earning all-conference honors each and every seasons. Bolden could be a Day 2 gem and rise to the top of any NFL team’s depth chart.
Let’s get to know more about Bolden!
SK: How would you best describe your upbringing?
RB: If I had to describe my upbringing in one word it’d be unorthodox compared to most of my peers. I was raised in an extremely tough area in Memphis, TN in a single parent home. I’ve come to realize that society immediately labels that as some sort of disadvantage. The typical kid from a poverty stricken area, no father figure story, but that wasn’t the case for me at all. Undoubtedly my childhood was different, and I had to grow up faster than most, but it was in no way was a disadvantaged one. My mom reiterated to me through her actions that where I was in no way dictated my outcome. I seen my her effortlessly balance being the emotional backbone that is essential for any kid, as well as providing me with the perfect father figure. I seen life tell my mom no time and time again and she always found some way to prevail and that’s something that rubbed off on me and stuck. I learned from an extremely early age to do more with less, and this has kind of been my foundation not only as a man but as well as an athlete. I eventually would go on to move to Texas when I was about 15, just because my mother felt it would be a better situation for me and the rest is kind of history.
SK: How did you discover football?
RB: I’ve always been a bit of a statistical freak, knowing who was the greatest at their respective positions, and things like that, but the idea of me actually playing football wasn’t in my head at all before moving to Texas. I remember lying to all my friends that I’d made and telling them what I did in little league football, when in reality I’d worn football pads maybe 3 times in my life. I exhausted an attempt at literally every sport possible before I finally gave football a chance. Seeing the tradition, feeling the anticipation, and witnessing 40,000 people show up to a high school football game is kind of what got me to give it a try. I just wanted to be a part of something that seemed to bring a whole city together. So initially for me, football was definitely something for me to just fit in.
SK: How did the teachings from your family translate to football?
RB: As I said earlier, learning to do more with less and seeing my mom kind of do things just because life told her no has been the definition of me as an athlete. I remember trying to find a position and coach telling me I was too small to be a wideout, so that’s exactly what I did that. I’m essentially a 5’9 receiver who’s maybe taken a total of 10 in game reps in the slot and still excelled. That was just another case of being told I couldn’t do something so I did it. That’s definitely something I picked up from watching my mom go about life.
SK: What was your first impression of Stoney Brook?
RB: When I first got to stony brook, I was miserable. I was Texas kid who was just transferring in from a school in California, and my first day on campus I’m outside slipping on snow. It was an extremely tough transition just because I was coming into a team that just wasn’t what you needed to be in order to be successful. It had nothing to do with staff or athletic ability but it was just a really selfish egocentric group and guys just didn’t gel together well at all. That’s definitely far from the case at all. We probably have a few too many “I love you” going around in a locker room haha but it worked for us. As far as my life outside the white lines, I have the absolute best group of humans around me that I could ask for. It’s crazy how it all happened but I say it all the time, Stony Brook was the best decision of my life.
SK: What was your favorite on-field memory at Stoney Brook?
RB: I remember I had an opportunity to talk to my teammates before the our first playoff game, a game in which I would not be playing in for the first time in my career. I said to them that it comes a day where everyone’s clock hits zero for the last time as an athlete so to enjoy every second given. We moved on the the 2nd round of the playoffs and faced off against JMU and sure enough I looked up we were losing 26 to 7 and I watched the clock tick down from 10 to 0 and I kind of had this euphoric moment where I seen my entire career just play out in front of me. From my junior college struggles, not knowing if I’d ever play football again, being named an all conference selection 3 consecutive years, team captain, statistically being a top 5 wideout in every category in school history, the way I learned to love, just everything hit me because I knew I was so undeserving of the blessings I’d received. I just stood there smiling and it was legitimately one of the best moments of my life to know I set out to do something and I did it. What made it even better was that I was my most successful when I no longer made it about myself. So that was definitely a special moment, just to get that close for that chapter of my life.
SK: How often have you felt taking on pro-ready talent?
RB: Well I have a few ex teammates that are playing and producing in the league from Stony Brook. Even just this year alone some of my teammates on the defensive side of the ball are getting some draft consideration so I’ve been honing my game and learning to work with that necessary motor for three years now. Aside, from the guys in my own back yard the CAA hands down is the best conference from top to bottom on the FCS level. Guys get drafted and sign with teams left and right, and rightfully so. There are two guys who I believe you’ll be hearing about on the next level that I’ve played for three years now and that’s Najee Goode from Maine, and the Malcom Brown kid from Delaware. They come to work and hate losing, I respect anyone who works on their craft the way they do and it shows.
SK: Is there a player in the NFL that has inspired you or who you modeled your game after?
RB: Oh man I’m a BIG Ace Smitty fan. I’ve been trying to get a tip or 2 from Steve Smith for a good 5 or 6 years now. I just love the way his work and dedication shows itself in his route running, and the way he created separation. I definitely don’t think many people can play with the motor he played that’s just something you have to be born with. Loved his approach to the game and position, revolutionized the position for guys like me.
SK: What conversation did you have with an NFL personnel stand out the most to you?
RB: Nothing that’s been said to me by any NFL personnel has really stood out to me. Everyone kind of just talks to me about what I could bring to an organization as far as my route running ability and being a guy you just enjoy having in the locker room. Definitely received a lot of good feedback from the few times I’ve been able to display my ability in front of teams but nothing that’s stuck so far.
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