Sept. 21, 2011
The following is a part of an ongoing series of feature stories that appear in the Southern Miss Kickoff Magazine. These stories premiere at every Southern Miss home football game and highlight a senior Golden Eagle football player.
"Family and Faith ... and Peanuts"
By Kyle Neaves, Asst. Director of Media Relations
Standing just six-feet tall, Southern Miss senior wide receiver Kelvin Bolden is a fairly unimposing character, especially when you consider he weighs just a shade over 160 lbs., probably with his pads on. And this is nothing he hasn't heard before. But while you're busy talking about his size, he's just catching football after football after football and blazing down the sideline for six points.
So you can continue to talk and he'll continue to keep his eyes (and his ears) on what has been most important to him: his family and his faith.
"I always strive to put God first in everything I do," says Bolden, a phrase he repeated numerous times with a passionate gaze. "God has a plan for me and he leads me each and every day."
It should come as no surprise then that his favorite passages in the Bible is Philippians 4:13 nor should it be any surprise that, with that same resolve, his family is such a priority. What is surprising though, to everyone other than Bolden and his family at least, is his meteoric rise as a collegiate receiver.
Bolden, who prepped at Ocean Springs High School, was more of a star on the track in high school and his scholarship offers reflected that. But steadfast to play football, he accepted a scholarship offer at a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school in Mississippi. Then, word came that he would soon be a father and it was a quick decision to come back closer to home.
"I had to take care of my responsibilities," said Bolden. "I came home and enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. During my first year, I needed time to get used to the offense but everything kind of blew up for me in my second year."
Blow up would be an understatement.
As a sophomore, Bolden caught 53 passes for 1,337 yards and 17 touchdowns, and the scholarship offers began to roll in.
"I had more offers than I ever thought I would have," noted Bolden. "I decided to come here because it was closer to home and my family could catch all my games. It's an easy drive from the coast for them to come back and forth.
"My mom is my No. 1 fan. She's not too healthy. She has some sick days and her best days don't come often. I wanted to be able to stay close to her and stay close to my son."
Bolden's son, Kameron, and mother, Michelle, are present at every home game and also take every opportunity to see him play on the road - even planning to make the trip to Annapolis later this season to watch him take on Navy.
Michelle has followed her son each and every step of the way - from his early beginnings at West Elementary in Moss Point, Miss., up through the ranks at Ocean Springs and into college. It hasn't been without struggle Bolden points out. His size has always been a topic of discussion but he has turned it into motivation.
"I was always the underdog, always the smallest one," Bolden said. "It led me to push more because I felt like I needed to out-do this person, out-do that person no matter how big he was. No matter how good he was. I always had in my mind to out-do him."
Bolden's size also translated into a nickname that has nearly replaced his first name altogether on the football field. He picked up the moniker "Peanut" in seventh grade when, "Coach Deaton gave me that name. He was handing out jerseys and he called my name and said `I'm going to give you No. 1.' That was my first number and he told me I was the little guy on the team and he was going to start calling me `Peanut.'"
Now, as a senior, Bolden has supplanted himself as one of quarterback Austin Davis' go-to receivers. For a player who has worked so hard to achieve that goal, it's fair to say he's earned the luxury to bask in that role.
"To be seen as one of the top receivers on the team feels good," Bolden notes before returning the topic to a potential conference championship for his team. And that's the thing about Bolden. For all the flash and work ethic, all he wants is for his team to succeed and to take care of his family - his mother and his son, "Little Nut."