With the news today that Louisville grad transfer Kyle Bolin committed to Rutgers, the quarterback situation has been immediately improved for next season. Whether Bolin ultimately becomes the starting quarterback remains to be seen, but he is now the most experienced signal caller on the roster and will have every opportunity to win the job. I was fortunate to speak with Kyle shortly after he announced his commitment to the program. Here is what he had to say about choosing Rutgers and what fans should expect upon his arrival at the end of the spring semester.
In terms of your process in choosing a new school, what factored in your decision to ultimately commit to Rutgers?
“When I sat down with coach Petrino (HC at Louisville) and athletic director Tom Jurich, one thing they stressed was to go to a place that I would have the greatest opportunity to play. They hated to see me leave but understood my situation and were very supportive with me. They wanted to make sure that I was leaving to find myself in the right position. That’s one thing I was looking forward to (with Rutgers) in getting to know the coaching staff and the program.”
“The other thing was what school felt like they really wanted me and really needed me. I just felt Rutgers hit home on all of those things that I was looking for in making a decision on which program to choose. Luckily, it was something that happened early in the process. Now I can focus solely on getting ready to get up there.”
What was it about coach Ash and coach Kill that sold you on the program?
“They seem like very good men of high character. Everybody I talked to outside of the Rutgers program that has relationships with them or know of them, have all spoken extremely high of them. Coach Ash is an outstanding guy off the field and an outstanding coach on the field. Same thing with Coach Kill. Just knowing that I will be playing underneath two very respectful and respected coaches, it will make things much easier with the transition.”
With the actual offense, how do you see yourself fitting in with the personnel on the roster and how do you see yourself contributing on the field?
“I feel like I can come in and make a difference. Obviously, nothing is going to be handed to me. I have to come in and earn the position. There are some great quarterbacks that I will be competing with. Hopefully, they will see me as a friend and a brother and not the enemy in competition. I’m looking forward to meeting with them, getting to know them and picking their brains, so we can all make each other better as a quarterback unit.”
“I see that there is great talent on the Rutgers team, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. It seems like they have all the pieces to be a great team, they are just missing the mold. I made the decision to come to Rutgers because I want to be that mold, I want to be that difference maker. I want to be a key factor in turning the program around next season.”
With your experience at Louisville, which includes starting against a Clemson team that went to the national championship game, how excited are you to bring that experience with you to Rutgers and go head to head against the Big Ten East, which has some of the best teams in the country?
“I’m very excited. I feel like I play my best when the stage is at its biggest and the lights are at its brightest. I’m excited to get up there and start learning the offense and building relationships with teammates. Getting familiar with the routes that the receivers will be running. Getting comfortable with the running backs, the offensive line, the tight ends. I can’t wait to face the competition of the Big Ten. That’s a reason I chose Rutgers. I’m going to be on one of the biggest stages in the country by playing in the East division of the Big Ten. Playing teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State is really going to give our team an opportunity to be really good.”
What is your past history with Rutgers defensive back Ross Douglas and how long have you known each other?
“We’ve known each other since the 8th grade. We met at the National Underclassmen Combine, which actually originated up north. Our dads met each other while competing and became good friends. I think they’ve talked almost once a week for the past 8 years. From that, Ross and I became close and really good friends. I’m just excited to come up there and play with him. We tried to go to the same place out of high school. I wanted him to come to Louisville because I was recruited early there, and he was recruited to Penn State before switching his commitment to Michigan, so it didn’t work out. Now that we are both transfers at Rutgers, I am excited to get up there and rekindle our friendship, work together and grind together.”
Is there anyone else on the roster you knew prior and if not, how were you received by the rest of the players on your visit this past weekend?
“No, Ross was the only one that I knew, but the moment I stepped foot into the facility, everyone welcomed me with open arms. Guys coming up to me that already knew my name and heard about me, showing me love. Everybody was very kind, very respectful, and very welcoming. It didn’t take more than a couple of hours until it felt like I was already part of the team. It felt like I’d had relationships with these people for a long time. I think what coach Ash has done is build the program with only players of high character and just good people. I could see that right away. I believe good things come to good people and I think we have an opportunity to be really good next year.”
Kyle, you had reached out to me on Monday, asking to clarify my initial article on your career at Louisville. I accidentally misspoke some about your career timeline at Louisville, including saying you lost the starting job during the 2015 season to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. I do apologize for the errors. Please clarify on how that season actually went?
“It was just more so what had happened in the past. I redshirted my freshman year and I actually started the 2015 season as the third string quarterback. Reggie Bonnafon started the opener against Auburn, then he was replaced with Lamar Jackson, who started the second game against Houston. Then I came in the 4th quarter of the Houston game, threw for almost 125 yards and almost won the game, we missed on a field goal.” (editor’s note: Bolin actually threw for 157 yards and 1 TD in the 4th quarter against Houston, who finished 13-1 and #8 in the final rankings that season.)
“I started against Clemson in the next game. They moved back to Lamar for the next few games, then I came back and relieved him from injury against Wake Forest and then started the rest of the season from there, including the bowl game. I understand in making the error, my career has been a roller coaster, so I understand having a hard time trying to figure it out.”
Thanks for understanding. Lastly, what is your message to the Rutgers fans?
“Don’t give up on the program. I know last year was tough because of circumstances and how the season went along. Just come out here next year and be ready to see a show. I’m going to get up there and the moment I step foot on campus, I’m going to work my butt off. I’m going to get this offense and team together the best that I can. When given an opportunity, I’ll leave it all on the field. It’s very difficult for teams to come in and play in a hostile environment. Every game at home needs to be a hostile environment.”
I wanted to thank Kyle for speaking with me and wish him the very best in his time at Rutgers next season. Welcome to the banks, Kyle!