Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian are on fire recruiting wide receiver talent in the NCAA Transfer Portal early this offseason. Texas picked up their third commitment from a portal wideout on Jan. 16 from the former Oregon State Beavers redshirt junior slot receiver Silas Bolden.
Bolden committed to Texas over other schools that displayed interest in his portal recruitment, including the Washington Huskies, Arizona Wildcats, and USC Trojans, among others.
Texas football stays hot with portal WR recruiting by landing Oregon State transfer Silas Bolden
The commitment from Bolden in the portal comes just a couple of days after his official visit to Texas wrapped up last weekend. Texas was the first and only school that we know of that Bolden visited before he made his decision.
He took a multi-day official visit to Texas last weekend. And he was also expected to visit Washington, USC, and potentially Arizona. But Texas sealed the deal with his portal recruitment before any of the other visits transpired.
Landing two impact wideouts in the portal in former Houston Cougars sophomore Matthew Golden and Alabama Crimson Tide sophomore Isaiah Bond didn't stop Sarkisian, wide receivers coach Chris Jackson, and the Longhorns with Bolden. Texas got another weapon to shore up the offense and special teams unit with the addition of Bolden in the portal.
The receiving corps and return units on special teams are stocked up for 2024
Texas has completely reloaded the receiving corps after losing its three starting wideouts from last year's squad. The Longhorns got three proven and explosive wideouts who were among the best producers on their respective teams last season to load up the wide receiver room in 2024.
Inside Texas reported that special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Jeff Banks was a critical part of Texas's pitch to Bolden. His ability in the return game will be one of the ways Texas expects him to contribute this upcoming season.
Bolden was very effective in the return game for Oregon State last season. He was the highest-graded returner in the PAC-12 last season, registering over 400 kick return yards and also a punt return for a touchdown.
Sarkisian can utilize Bolden in many different ways and looks on offense
The 5-foot-8 and 155-pound fourth-year wideout Bolden gives the Longhorns another elusive weapon who can be utilized in a multitude of different offensive looks pre-snap. He's a versatile and elusive wideout who can line up in the slot, out of the backfield, or in the motion/jet sweep game for the Texas offense.
I'd like to think Sarkisian can utilize Bolden in some different specialty packages and motion sets on offense. Combine the different motion looks out of the backfield and the elusiveness in space with someone like Texas running back Keilan Robinson and the change of direction in space almost like what Sarkisian had in Adoree Jackson roughly a decade ago at USC.
Moreover, Bolden has the speed, reliable hands, and developed route-running ability to work in those tight windows and short areas between the numbers out of the slot. When he was utilized from the slot last season at Oregon State, Bolden registered 14 catches on 17 targets for nearly 200 receiving yards, one touchdown, and zero drops.
Motion wasn't an element that former Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith utilized in his offense in Corvallis as much as Sarkisian will with Bolden at Texas. Nonetheless, when Smith did incorporate motion in his offense on passing plays, Bolden was the primary target. He led Oregon State in motion targets (8) last season.
Another element of Bolden's game that shouldn't be overlooked is how he can make plays as a receiver or ball-carrier out of the backfield. Bolden's speed and change of direction makes him a lethal weapon to get touches in the backfield as he registered over 200 rushing yards on 21 carries with four rushing scores in the last three seasons at Oregon State.
Texas's WR room is stacked entering the SEC in 2024
So, where will Bolden fit in the receiver room with all this depth and proven talent from other Power Five schools that Sarkisian and the Longhorns have added via the portal this offseason?
Since Golden and Bond are so versatile as you can get them the ball in space in so many different ways through the air, Bolden can be utilized as a specialty slot receiver and hybrid receiver/running back. I like the idea of utilizing him in two different two-back sets to confuse opposing defenses and get the Bolden the ball in space in creative ways.
Bolden can also be a contributor out of the slot or field receiver spot as part of what looks to be a four or five-man rotation at the position in 2024. You still have freshman wide receiver Ryan Wingo and rising sophomore Johntay Cook II who will need reps in live-game action this upcoming season.
A beautiful part of Texas adding Bolden to the equation is that he gives you yet another playmaker to ensure that the Longhorns are solid at wideout in case injuries pile up during the season. Adding Bolden ensures that rising redshirt junior quarterback Quinn Ewers always has multiple playmakers he can get the ball to make plays in the passing game.