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Bolden: Top recruit

Bernard Bolden had just finished winning the 200-meter dash at a track meet Wednesday night when he heard some good news.

Washington State had offered the Merced junior a football scholarship.

It didn't take long for Bolden to receive his second offer, either -- Arizona came calling on Thursday morning.

The recruiting war for Merced's electric, do-it all athlete has begun.

"It's going to be real exciting," Bolden said. "I can't wait to see who else is looking at me.

"I didn't even think I'd get offers this early. I thought I might start getting some later in the year after we go to the Cal camp."

Bolden was named CCC defensive player of the year last year for his big-play dominance at safety.

He also helped the CCC champions at running back, receiver, cornerback, kick returner, punt returner and even punter.

"I'm excited for Bernard," Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. "I think things are going to happen pretty quickly."

It took Arizona less than a day to offer a scholarship after word got out that Washington State had already made its offer to Bolden.

"Washington State feels he could play multiple positions," Scheidt said.

"They could play him at safety, corner, slot (receiver) or running back.

"They're not worried. They'll figure out where to put him when they see his senior tapes."

Scheidt said all the Pac-10 schools have expressed interest and he's heard from some schools nationally, like Miami and Connecticut.

Bolden said he'd also be interested in Fresno State.

However, Pat Hill and his coaches only have sent him a letter at his point.

"I have no idea where I want to play yet," Bolden said. "I'm going to keep my options open.

"Just playing college football is appealing."

Bolden ran for 501 yards and eight touchdowns in his limited time in the backfield last year.

On defense, he recorded 54 tackles and four interceptions.

Merced running back Stephon Mathis, tight end Kenny Cooper and defensive end Nathan Mayfield may also attract interest.

"Hopefully we'll get more guys in the same boat," Scheidt said. "Each of these guys have to take care of their academics to make sure the offer remains true.

"I've been here before. It's not until signing day that it becomes reality."