This Sentell’s Intel rep has the latest with Georgia freshman safety KJ Bolden. He finished the 2024 recruiting cycle ranked as the nation’s No. 1 S and the No. 13 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings. The On3 Industry Ranking rated him at No. 1 and at No. 12 overall.

KJ Bolden seemed quite happy with his decision to play for Georgia football earlier this month at the All-American Bowl in Texas.

The 5-star safety has been in Athens for a few weeks now. He enrolled for the spring semester just after that game out in San Antonio.

DawgNation caught up with him in Texas and he said three things that stuck out about the way he was approaching his college football career with the Bulldogs.

  • The Buford High graduate knew full well about a “hard work” culture that decides who will be great playing for Kirby Smart in the SEC.
  • He said Malaki Starks has paved the way for what he wants to accomplish at UGA
  • Bolden said that playing for the Bulldogs was something he wanted to do all along.

We’ll highlight each of those elements in detail below. Put them all together and it seems like he’s wired to excel when he gets his turn to make plays for Georgia.

If that wasn’t enough of a positive mindset, his recent social media post on the “X” platform added even more clarity to his mindset.

Former 5-star safety KJ Bolden is just a freshman defensive back now. But his recent interview with DawgNation made it seem like he had his head right when he moved to Athens to begin his career. This recent post on "X" is another example of the focus he's taken with his life and career. (Courtesy photo/X) (Courtesy photo/Dawgnation)

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KJ Bolden knows hard work matters within the Georgia football program

Bolden said out in Texas that fellow 5-star freshman DB Ellis Robinson IV continued to stay on him and recruit him even after he chose FSU back in August.

“He was ‘Like bro c’mon bro you are already a home-state kid. You feel me? You are already down there. You are like 30 minutes from Athens’ and ‘Just come take it over with me.’”

The former Buford star was taking a group photo with all of his teammates on the East roster on the last day of practices before the All-American Bowl. He got to talking with 4-star DL signee Justin Greene. Greene wasn’t able to enroll early so he won’t come in until May.

Bolden was telling Greene about how hard Kirby Smart was going to work all of them during their first year in Athens. Well, during their whole careers pretty much..

It was proof positive that he was already well-versed on what his time as a ‘Dawg was going to be like.

“You got to go somewhere you have got to work first,” he said. “Before you get on the field and showcase your skills. But at Georgia, you have got to put in that real work. That’s why we win championships. Because we put in that real work. Everybody doesn’t see off the cameras but them boys really are down there working. I feel that. You feel me. We work.”

Georgia freshman safety KJ Bolden was a 5-star prospect and an All-American during his time at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

Why Malaki Starks gave KJ Bolden the road map for his future in Athens

Former Jefferson High School great Malaki Starks was also a 5-star coming out of the prep ranks. Starks was rated as the nation’s No. 1 ATH in the 2022 cycle. Bolden was seen as the country’s top ATH prospect this cycle because of his all-around game.

Kickoffs. Defense. Interceptions. Big plays at receiver.

Starks didn’t play as much safety as Bolden did in high school. He was a dual-threat QB threat first and foremost for his high school.

He did not play as much safety as Bolden did. Bolden even did so at the GHSA Class 7A level.

Georgia then saw Starks enroll early and he developed fast. Who can forget the way he flashed his talent early at the 2022 season opener against Oregon in Mercedes-Benz Stadium?

Starks didn’t start that game, but he has every game since for the Bulldogs. He wound up a Freshman All-American and a consensus All-American after his sophomore year. Starks was a finalist for both the Nagurski Award and the Jim Thorpe Award after his sophomore season.

Bolden was impressed by all of that.

“Most people said I should try to be yourself but I feel like he printed out the blueprint,” Bolden said. “Basically. You know him coming in his freshman year and you have got to be on your stuff. You have to be on all ten [toes]. So I feel like if you come in and you be on all your stuff and learn play book and just give it all you got. You are going to be on the field. I am going to try it. Do you feel me? The same thing he did.”

Georgia freshman safety KJ Bolden was a 5-star prospect and an All-American during his time at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
Georgia 2024 signees (from left to right) Nitro Tuggle, KJ Bolden, Justin Greene, Nyier Daniels, Jordan Thomas and Chauncey Bowens pose for a photo on Friday, January 5, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. Those were six of the seven Bulldog signees at the 2024 All-American Bowl. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

KJ Bolden: How DawgNation has welcomed his flip with open arms

Bolden told a story about driving around Metro Atlanta after his early signing day flip from FSU to Georgia. That development proved to be the big “Kirby Smart boom” that DawgNation is used to at the final bell of every recruiting cycle.

He loved the fact he’s now a ‘Dawg.

“The fan base has treated me amazing,” Bolden said. “You know I live in Georgia. I will be walking around and everybody will be screaming ‘Go ‘Dawgs!’ and I was on the highway the other day driving. Someone pulled down their window and screamed ‘Go ‘Dawgs!’ and all that type of stuff. It is really crazy. But that’s what I wanted. To be the hometown kid and stay home with the ‘Dawgs. ... That’s really what I expected from it.”

Bolden also had a message for DawgNation about what to look for in 2024.

“Be on the look for them ‘Dawgs next year,” he said.

Check out the bulk of that DawgNation Conversation with Bolden below followed by his senior highlight film at Buford.

That highlight film stretches more than nine minutes long of big plays for his senior year with the Wolves.

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.

Georgia freshman safety KJ Bolden was a 5-star prospect and an All-American during his time at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
Georgia freshman safety KJ Bolden was a 5-star prospect and an All-American during his time at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)


(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)