Conventional wisdom says that former University of Toledo quarterback Tavares Bolden isn't big enough or quick enough to play in the NFL.
But Bolden's scrambling ability, his ability to throw on the run, and his above-average arm could soon earn him a free-agent contract in the Canadian Football League.
“There's a significant level of interest in Tavares Bolden,” Shawn Lackie, the CFL's vice president for communications, said yesterday.
“I hear there are a couple of teams interested in me, and I've heard there's going to be a contract offer soon,” Bolden said.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes have shown the most interest in Bolden.
“I've had some CFL teams and personnel men contact me and our coaching staff for film of Tavares,” UT coach Tom Amstutz said. “As wide open as that league is, I think it would be a perfect fit for Tavares. It's almost like playground-style football. Everybody runs patterns, and the quarterbacks just drop back and throw it.”
Bolden, 6-1 and 205 pounds, was a second-team All-Mid-American Conference selection this past year. He set conference and school records for completion percentage (68.7 percent) and also broke the school record for pass efficiency (147.32).
He completed 200 of 291 passes for 2,331 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading the Rockets to a 10-2 record, the MAC championship, a victory over Cincinnati in the Motor City Bowl and a No. 23 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. He tossed only five interceptions while being sacked five times.
Bolden also finished his career with a 24-5 record as UT's starting quarterback while completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 5,282 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,065 yards and nine scores.
“I really would like to get a shot to play in Canada,” said Bolden, who is scheduled to graduate this spring with a degree in recreation and leisure. “I think it would be a lot of fun.”
The biggest difference between the NFL and the CFL are the dimensions of the playing field. An NFL field is 120 yards long and 531/3 yards wide with two 10-yard end zones and the goal posts at the back. A CFL field is 150 yards long and 65 yards wide with two 20-yard end zones and the posts at the goal line.
“I think the bigger playing field would suit my style of play,” Bolden said. “I think that style of football also would help me get better as a quarterback.”
The most famous UT grad to play in the CFL was quarterback Chuck Ealey, who led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup Championship in his rookie season of 1972. A seven-year CFL veteran, Ealey also played for the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg.
“Tavares has a lot in common with Chuck Ealey,” Amstutz said. “He can run and throw the ball. And he's a winner.”