CRAWFORD | Why Louisville backup QB Kyle Bolin ignored the trans - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Why Louisville backup QB Kyle Bolin ignored the transfer trend and stayed put

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Louisville quarterback Kyle Bolin. (AP photo) Louisville quarterback Kyle Bolin. (AP photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kyle Bolin has played enough football, won enough games and displayed enough talent that, had he wanted to, he could have called an audible after last season.

He could’ve checked out of his quarterback position at the University of Louisville and checked into a starting job at any number of schools, including some in major conferences.

All summer, word simmered that he might. Lamar Jackson, a talented sophomore dual-threat QB, has become the face of the program. Everybody heard the talk, and Bolin admits, he thought about it.

“There were moments when it crossed my mind,” Bolin said.

U of L coaches heard the same thing. Nick Petrino, Cardinals’ quarterback coach, said, “It was always on the back of my mind a little bit.”

It says something about the mentality in sports today that Bolin’s return to U of L actually could be listed as a surprise. Most people, in the same situation, wouldn’t come back. He started five games and the Cards went 3-2 in them a year ago. He nearly led the team to an upset win over eventual national runner-up Clemson and threw for 1,154 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 57 percent of his passes in seven games. He played in four games as a freshman, and engineered a big comeback win over Kentucky.

That resume, combined with his physical talents, had a great many coaches keeping an eye on his movements over the summer.

Bolin, however, did the unexpected. Facing a back-up status with two highly touted young quarterbacks in the same meeting room, he decided to stay. With the playing-time pocket seemingly collapsing around him, he elected to stand and face the rush. Why? There were several reasons.

The first, perhaps, was that Bolin took a look at his future and decided coaching was in it. And with that being the case, he figured there were few people better than Louisville coach Bobby Petrino to learn from. Petrino, from a coaching standpoint, is generous to players with those aspirations, works to give them added responsibility if they want it, and supports their efforts after they leave.

“I’m kind of figuring out what I want to do after football ends, and whether it be in college or hopefully I can make it to the next level, I want to be a football coach,” Bolin said. “So knowing that that’s my end game has made me more of a student of the game, and coach has helped me out with that.”

Moreover, Bolin felt some loyalty to his teammates.

Petrino, at ACC Media Days, told reporters, “Everybody in our locker room respects Kyle Bolin. They know how important he is to our program.”

It’s unusual to see a junior backup quarterback garner a large number of votes when players are asked to vote for team captains, but Bolin did just that.

“That means a lot,” Bolin said. “You know, I feel like a lot of guys look up to me, and that’s a huge reason why I want to stay a Louisville Cardinal and just be here for my teammates. I understand I may not be the No. 1 quarterback going into this season, but that doesn’t change anything. I’ve been the quarterback before. I know the offense. I try to go out and work hard every, single day. And coaches and players respect that. So the fact that I’m not on the field doesn’t mean that I can’t be a leader.”

Still, don’t think Bolin didn’t hear the chatter. Don’t think there weren’t a few people telling him that perhaps he ought to seek a transfer and give himself a chance at being a starting quarterback. Bolin is set to graduate in December. Had he wanted, conceivably he could’ve pushed himself to graduate over the summer and perhaps played immediately somewhere.

Bolin talked it over with his parents. He did think about it. But in the end, he looked at the bigger picture. It’s not a picture that young people are always interested in today, but Bolin thinks he made the right call.

“There was a lot of chatter, but there’s always a lot of chatter,” Bolin said. “There’s negative chatter and positive chatter, and you just have to find your way through that chatter, listen to what you believe in, your family, people that really care about you. And after doing all that I just feel like I’m in a really good spot here.

“When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to be a University of Louisville Cardinal, and I want to finish a University of Louisville Cardinals. I think that, you know, facing obstacles and problems throughout that road, and trying to find an easy way out, or avoiding them, is not going to make you a better person. Everything I’ve been through my whole career and everything in my life to this point has made me the man that I am today, and will make me the man that I am in the future.”

It will also give Cardinals’ coaches some peace of mind about the quarterback spot. The Louisville offense is different with Bolin under center, but the comfort level of Louisville’s players with him is nearly as big a deal as his knowledge of the system.

“When we put Kyle on the field, our players expect he can come in and lead them to a win,” Petrino said. “There’s no change in expectation. They believe in him, and that’s a big deal.”

Nick Petrino said Bolin put in a great deal of work over the summer, and just as Jackson has improved, he has become a better quarterback, too.

“Of course our offense changes a little bit with him in there,” Petrino said of Bolin. “It’s not really two separate packages, it’s more just the way the plays are called. It wouldn’t be so much of the zone read type stuff, you get more back to how our offense was with Brian Brohm, more of a true pro-style offense with Kyle under center.”

But as Plan B options go, Louisville is strong. And knowing that they’ve needed multiple quarterbacks the past several years, Plan B is an important thing.

“I never want to play because of somebody’s injury,” Bolin said. “But you have to be ready.”

Nick Petrino said Bolin’s mere presence makes a statement about the kind of person he is. Bolin continues to work with Jackson and true freshman Jawon Pass. He’s not just helping teammates and guys who are competing for the same playing time he is, he’s also learning to work with quarterbacks. 

“I guess you could say it’s comfortable for us to know that we have Kyle if anything ever happened,” Nick Petrino said. “. . . I think (his staying) says a lot about him. Most kids might want to leave in that situation. I think it says a lot about him as a committed kid. He likes Louisville. He’s from Lexington, so he’s right near home. . . . He knows he might have to come in and win some games for us. And we know he can do that.”

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