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Will Ohio State go after USC safety Bubba Bolden?

It’s a tricky situation.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been plenty of talk on this website, and on just about every Ohio State website this season on the struggles of Ohio State’s defense this year. Most of those complaints center around the linebacker play, and of course, the issues at safety, specifically at the free safety spot, because Jordan Fuller has been pretty solid at strong safety.

Those concerns are obviously very valid, because Ohio State, well, keeps giving up big plays, and it doesn’t seem like the talent on the team right now is capable of stopping that. The pursuit angles are bad, the tackling is bad, and the two primary starters, Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint, just don’t seem ready to play at a high level.

While it’s fair to expect both players to be better next year, it’s not a sure thing, as nothing in college football is. That means Ohio State could be without Jordan Fuller (likely off to the NFL), and without a proven safety, throwing some combination of Pryor, Wint, Amir Riep, Shaun Wade, and Josh Proctor back there. Outside of Wade, that list isn’t going to inspire a lot of confidence unless some of those guys are either ready ahead of schedule (Riep/Proctor) or greatly improved (Pryor/Wint).

That uncertainty, both for next year and for the future as a whole, inspired quite a bit of intrigue from Buckeye fans on Monday, when former USC safety Bubba Bolden announced that he’d be transferring following a 28 month suspension from the school after an incident at a party that I, admittedly, don’t know enough about to go into great detail on.

Bolden, for those who don’t remember, was recruited pretty heavily by Ohio State in 2017, and was part of the Bishop Gorman group that Ohio State wanted to land (the Buckeyes landed Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett, but couldn’t hold on to Tyjon Lindsey, and missed out on Bolden). That original interest from Ohio State caused some conjecture online about the possibility of Ohio State as a landing spot for Bolden to finish the last few years of his career.

While that is a possibility, I don’t know if Buckeye fans should bank on it as hard as they may be right now. Firstly, Bolden will almost certainly have to sit out a year at whatever he lands at, because he was entering his sophomore year this year, and transfer rules don’t allow underclassmen to play immediately, barring extraordinary situations. That means that Bolden wouldn’t be eligible until the 2020-21 season. Ohio State may not even need a safety at that point, because they have a lot of young talent at the position, that should be ready to go by then.

Secondly, and more importantly, Ohio State going out and taking a player that had some Title IX related issues would be pretty heavily scrutinized, given what happened in Columbus this summer. Bolden is a good player, and would be able to contribute to Ohio State on the field, but with plenty of questions around what actually happened at USC, I’m just not sure Ohio State is willing to take that media hit. I guess we’ll see.

Quick hit

  • Four-star 2021 running back Jaylen Anderson is visiting Ohio State this weekend. He’s a heavy Ohio State lean at this point.