Dante Bolden went to The Opening New Jersey Regional with a simple goal in mind.
“Going up against those big-name players, I knew that if I did good that I could make a name for myself,” the 2020 linebacker from Springfield Central High School said.
The elite, invite-only camp was held at the New York Jets training facility in Florham Park, N.J.
Bolden managed to stick out amongst some of the nation’s top prospects including Cody Simon, a linebacker from New Jersey’s St. Peter’s Prep who has scholarship offers from schools such as Notre Dame and Penn State among many others.
“The Opening experience was definitely something I’ll remember,” Bolden said. “I knew going into the camp that it was going to be filled with the best talent around. I knew playing that stage is something I really want to do.
“I had the chance to compete and show everybody who I am and just make a name for myself. I definitely enjoyed it. It was a very fun camp, probably one of the best I’ve been to so far and I learned a lot, not just the coaches, but just watching what the players did right and wrong. I know I got better.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Bolden is on the radar of several college programs in the Northeast and beyond.
He recently took unofficial visits to Fordham, Holy Cross and Yale.
“They were all different,” he said.
The Massachusetts native was impressed with Yale’s campus in New Haven, Conn.
“There’s so many different food spots,” he added. “The food there is amazing. I had a little bit of – not everything – but I definitely got to taste a lot. The Yale campus is amazing.
“Them being so prestigious academically, that definitely stood out.”
Bolden was intrigued by location of Fordham’s campus.
“It’s in the middle of the Bronx, but right when you get on campus, it’s like real quiet,” he said. “I went to a spring practice when I was there. They play with a lot of energy and that’s something I like, a lot of energy.”
He also attended a Holy Cross spring practice in Worcester.
“The facility at Holy Cross was probably one of the best I’ve been to all spring,” he said. “I guess it’s brand-new. It’s amazing, the technology they have. Everything there was good. I liked it.”
He’s planning trips to camp at Boston College, Rutgers, Syracuse and possibly West Virginia this summer.
All of the college attention isn’t going to his head.
“I know I’m obviously doing something right, but I’m not complacent with anything,” he said. “I use it as motivation. I feel like I can’t be complacent. It definitely makes me want to go even harder.”
Bolden doesn’t have a firm timetable for choosing a school just yet.
“I want to know where I’m going either before the season starts or early in the season,” he said. “But who knows? That’s something I want, but if happens to go past that, then that’s fine too.
“I just want to make sure I don’t rush the decision. I want to make sure wherever I go is the right place for me all four years.”
Comfort will be one of the biggest factors in his decision.
“If I feel at home,” he said. “I’m going there for football, but I’m also going to be there all year, so I want to make sure everything is great.”