Southern California safety Bubba Bolden showed promise as an incoming freshman last season, playing immediately, mostly on special teams.
Then he practiced well enough in training camp this month so that on Sunday he was named a starter.
But then came Thursday and Bolden wasn’t at USC’s practice, and Trojans coach Clay Helton told reporters that the Bishop Gorman graduate wouldn’t play Saturday against UNLV at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Helton would not elaborate on the reason or say when or if Bolden might be back.
Bolden spoke to the Review-Journal last week about how he looked forward to facing the Rebels in the 1 p.m. game. He played for a season at Gorman under UNLV coach Tony Sanchez and said he was teammates with about five Rebels.
But now the No. 15 Trojans will start redshirt freshman Isaiah Pola-Mao in Bolden’s place.
Not having Bolden is a potentially significant loss for the Trojans. Helton raved about him on Tuesday’s Pac-12 Conference teleconference.
“He was able to help us on special teams (last season) as well as be a backup safety, and that’s hard to do as a true freshman and contribute the way that he did,” Helton said. “I think the biggest ground that he has made up is his knowledge of the pro-style defensive system.
“He performed extremely well, not only in spring but in fall camp. He’s assignment sound and playing extremely fast. Any time that you’re confused, it causes hesitation. At this level, that’s going to get you beat or hurt. There’s no more hesitation. He knows exactly what to do.”
Bolden was a decorated player at Gorman, earning first-team Parade All-America honors. He first committed to USC in December 2015 before deciding to give other schools a look. More than 20 programs offered scholarships, but Bolden ultimately stayed with the Trojans.
He appeared in every game last season except the one against Stanford because of a sprained knee, and recorded eight tackles for the season.
“It was a good learning experience, learning from the older guys and seeing the environment of how college is,” Bolden said last week.
As for UNLV, the Rebels received good news Thursday when the NCAA cleared sophomore cornerback Alex Perry, who transferred from Arizona State, to play this season rather than sit out a year.
It’s a major boost to the secondary for the Rebels. Perry, who went to Gorman, has been running second team in practices and will be part of the playing rotation.
But Perry and junior wide receiver Darren Woods Jr. won’t play Saturday because both are going through the concussion protocol.
UNLV’s Perry cleared to play
UNLV sophomore cornerback Alex Perry was cleared by the NCAA to play this season rather than sit out a year after transferring from Arizona State.
It’s a major boost to the secondary for the Rebels. Perry, a Bishop Gorman graduate, has been running second team in practices and will be part of the playing rotation.
Perry and junior wide receiver Darren Woods Jr. won’t play in Saturday’s game at No. 15 Southern California. Both are going through the concussion protocol.