- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
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Les Miles spent a good third of his first news conference of August camp on Wednesday talking about his backup quarterback.
Penn State transfer Rob Bolden, who was officially added to the LSU 105-man roster Wednesday afternoon, was the dominant subject of the 30-minute meeting with the media filled with questions about the new guy who has yet to even suit up for an LSU practice.
Miles' message: "I'm not going to put the horse in front of the cart," he said.
"There's so much that has to be accomplished [by Bolden] bit by bit and piece by piece that ... I'm not trying to presuppose," Miles said of the former Penn State starter, who was assigned jersey No. 1 on the LSU August camp roster. "I want him to come in here, get him comfortable, let him relax, let him know there's a lot to learn."
It was clear Wednesday that Miles likes the potential of his new quarterback and is comfortable with the process that brought him to Baton Rouge.
LSU recruited Bolden, who was rated the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and ranked No. 112 in the ESPN150 in his senior year at Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary's Prep. But Bolden chose Penn State. Miles said he subsequently learned LSU "finished second."
Miles said Bolden first expressed a desire to transfer from Penn State to LSU after the 2010 season, where he became the first freshman starter at PSU in 100 years, but ultimately lost the job to Matt McGloin. His request to transfer was denied by the late Joe Paterno.
Bolden continued to split time as a sophomore and again requested a transfer after slipping to third team in the spring. This time, new head coach Bill O'Brien granted his release. This time, the timing was perfect. LSU lost recruited freshman Jeremy Liggins, an academic non-qualifier, leaving it one player short of the 85-man scholarship limit and woefully short at quarterback, where only three scholarship players were on the roster.
So after Bolden visited LSU over the weekend, it was clear to both sides that it was a mutually beneficial marriage.
"It think he's going to be a great teammate," Miles said. "I think he's going to be able to compete. He's a great addition to our team, something we certainly need."
Miles mentioned Bolden's experience -- "He's played in big games, he's been a starter, he's walked into loud stadiums," -- as something that was attractive, although it is offset by having to learn an entirely new offense.
"He doesn't bring a playbook with him, just experiences," Miles said.
"They have so much to learn," he said.
Miles said the coaches loved what they saw of Bolden in high school -- "He was a real quality thrower and obviously very athletic," Miles said -- and it's clear he thinks he has the potential to be better than he was at Penn State, where he threw seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions in two seasons.
But, Miles warned, he has his work cut out for him first.
"He doesn't know how to call a cadence, he doesn't know how to call the plays, he doesn't know [LSU's] nomenclature," Miles said. "He has a long way to go. But he's a talented guy who will have every opportunity to compete."