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Oregon State transfer WR Silas Bolden signs with Texas

The California product provides the Longhorns another dynamic option on the outside and an impact player in the return game.

Silas Bolden at Texas
via @silasbolden_

Following a weekend visit to the Forty Acres, former Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Silas Bolden committed to the Texas Longhorns on Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter.

“I felt like Texas is a great place for me to grow as a player and person. It seemed like home as soon as I stepped on campus and the whole staff was great so that led me to commit,” Bolden told On3.

The California product has one year of eligibility remaining.

On Saturday morning, a little more than three days after Bolden committed, the Longhorns announced his signing. Bolden will be a summer enrollee.

A 5’8, 157-pounder, Bolden entered the NCAA transfer portal on January 1 and received offers from Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Illinois, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, USC, Utah, and Washington. Before visiting Austin, Bolden planned on taking additional visits to see the Wildcats, Trojans, and Huskies, but coaching turmoil in Tucson and Seattle likely influenced his decision to pick the Longhorns, in addition to the need to get into classes on the Forty Acres, which started on Tuesday.

Originally a consensus mid-three star recruit in the 2020 recruiting class out of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.), Bolden was ranked outside the top 1,000 players and 150 wide receivers nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, committing to Oregon State over five other offers — Hawaii, Idaho, Sacramento State, San Jose State, and Utah State.

Bolden played in one game as a true freshman before making limited contributions in 2021 with three catches for 25 yards and three carries for 13 yards. As a redshirt sophomore in 2022, Bolden made three starts in 13 games, earning second-team All-Pac-12 recognition as a return specialist by averaging 27.2 yards per kickoff return, including an 80-yarder against Montana State, and caught 23 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns while scoring two more touchdowns on the ground.

In 2023, Bolden had a breakout season with 54 catches for 704 yards and five touchdowns with two rushing touchdowns, a punt return for a touchdown, and a 23-yard average on kickoff returns.

Despite Bolden’s lack of size, he actually played 80 percent of his snaps on the outside for Oregon State in 2023, making him more a director competitor to rising sophomore Johntay Cook than to Alabama transfer Isaiah Bond, a rising junior who primarily played inside with the Crimson Tide.

Bolden recorded 276 yards after the catch last season, an average of 5.1 yards after the catch per reception, and showed reliable hands, dropping only two passes. If he’s going to make contested catches, they came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2023. Bolden was the most dangerous on targets between 10 and 20 yards, averaging 17 yard per reception on those passes, but also caught five balls more than 20 yards downfield, so he does have some ability to stretch the field vertically.

Bolden is the third wide receiver added in the transfer portal by Texas, joining Bond and Houston transfer Matthew Golden, and projects as a return man for the Longhorns who could replace Keilan Robinson as a hybrid offensive player who can also receive carries.

Special teams coordinator Jeff Banks confirmed his excitement in adding Bolden.

Analysis (by Daniel Seahorn):

Bolden is on the smallish side for the position (listed at 5’8 with a weight being unknown), but has never had an issue with injuries or availability during his time in Corvallis, as he played in 37 games for the Beavers logging snaps at wide receiver as well as a returner on special teams. Was named second-team All-Pac-12 the last two years as return specialist. Had his best year to date in 2023 at receiver logging 54 catches for 746 yards (13.8 yards per catch) and 5 touchdowns. Also logged 84 yards rushing on 9 carries and chipped in with 2 more touchdowns. Recorded 489 yards as a returner and returned 1 punt for a touchdown in 2023. Logged a 100m time of 11.08 and a 200m time of 22.76 during his senior year of high school. Shows good enough play speed to get on top of defensive backs and stretch the field vertically. Despite his size, Oregon State did not limit him to the slot. They were not afraid to line him outside the hashes and dial up deep shots to him. Has a play against Utah where he shows his ability to track the ball in the air on top of his ability to catch the ball away from his body while adjusting to the throw. In addition to that, he is playing through some contact from the defender who had a grip on his shoulder pads. Can be a handful to tackle in space with his ability to stop and start and his lateral agility. Oregon State got creative with how they got him touches at times. Even lined him up at running back and tossed it to him on a pitch that went for a house call on fourth down against the Utes. Would also dial up end arounds to him to try to get him out on the perimeter. As mentioned previously, he is going to be a plus in the return game. Bolden’s addition along with Matthew Golden allows special teams coach Jeff Banks to get a little more creative with two legit options back there now. Could possibly make it tough for teams to kick away from you. At first glance, Bolden looks like he will likely be plugged into the void left by Keilan Robinson, who is off to the NFL Draft. Robinson had a niche carved out for him within the offense and played a big role on special teams. The difference between the two players is that Robinson was a running back, while Bolden can provide you legit snaps at receiver in three- and four-wide receiver sets. This is another versatile piece to the puzzle for Steve Sarkisian heading into 2024.