Perhaps NFL veteran, since turned color analyst Jesse Holley put it best with his unique and accurate play on words during the national broadcast of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 20 at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
“There are no if, ands, or Bolts (buts) about it, Austin Bolt is the best player out on the field,” he said. Also worth mentioning, frequent ESPN3 contributor and play-by-play commentator Ryan Castle quickly agreed with the statement.
With everyone on the edges of their seats, Bolt had three touchdown receptions and was named Offensive MVP in an overtime victory for West over East, 37-30, in a game that featured the nation’s top prospects in the Class of 2020.
Bolt was on a different level than most of his peers. In the waning moments of overtime, the Boise State commit caught what proved to be the game-winner, a 25-yard pass from Mountain West Conference target Gunnar Gray.
Prior to that sequence, the tandem hooked up on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Still, East was out in front of West, 30-27, with two left in the fourth quarter. Navy commit Evan Warren then hit a 31-yard field goal to force overtime.
Bolt and Gray had an undeniable connection. From start to finish. First sign of them being on the same page came on a 37-yard touchdown pass-play to give West a 7-6 advantage over East with eight remaining in the first quarter.
On multiple occasions, it appeared as if NFL veteran and West head coach Mark McMillian, with NFL veteran trainer and offensive coordinator Rodney Beasley, thought it best to simply feed the ball to Bolt. Good decision, too.
In between, there were plenty of memorable moments. SWAC target Jalen Brown and Southland Conference target Cameron Ward were in control of the offense for the East. The rotation at quarterback worked out particularly well.
Ward, in fact, found Conference USA target Hayden Metcalf on a 47-yard touchdown pass to extend the East lead, 20-7 with one minute left in the first quarter. While not as strong, the two shared a rapport somewhat similar to Bolt and Gray.
Missouri Valley Football Conference target Devin Wills scored on an 81-yard run and Ohio Valley Conference target Jeremiah Bryant did the same on a 2-yarder to give the East a 30-20 lead with five left in the fourth quarter.
Bowling Green commit Jeremiah Banks-Wall was a man among boys on the East. Pioneer Football League target Daniel Greene and Patriot League target Jordan Robinson were both worthy counterparts, no question about that.
A highlight waiting to happen, Navy commit Tyrell Spruill made plays all over the field for the East. Whether on offense or special teams, he finished with 179 all-purpose yards and his name was in the conversation for Offensive MVP.
Up front for the West, UTEP commit Ian James and Wake Forest commit Shayne Stroyke anchored the offensive line. Naturally, the main beneficiary was North Texas commit Isaiah Johnson, who had plenty of room to run.
Abilene Christian commit Hayden Burke, Big Sky Conference targets Hunter Samuelson and Tennyson Hadfield, along with Mountain West Conference targets Dustyn Coughlin and Chase Bradshaw held their own on the West.
Southland Conference targets Carson Winters, Jaylon Coleman and B.J. Phillips were reliable options for the West and largely Gray, aside from Bolt. Same thing can be said about Big Sky Conference targets Kepu Fifita and Damani Wilks.
Difficult to deal with, UTSA commit Walker Baty of the East was named Defensive MVP. He had help, as Montana commit Rishi Daniels and ACC target William Anglen couldn’t be stopped and each made several momentum-changing plays.
Conference USA target Bobby Young, Southern Conference target Jacob Adams, Southland Conference target Isaiah Chambers, also Missouri Valley Football Conference targets Cameron Richardson and Datelle Straub contributed for the East.
Conference USA target Tyrese Powe on the West was in the mix for Defensive MVP. Southland targets Darius Williams, Kevin McGuin and Eamon Perry did well, same goes for Conference USA targets Xavier Simmons and Alex Blundell.
Kohl’s Kicking product Warren of the West also nailed a 51-yard field goal on Arthur Liebau hold and Bryan Worrell snap. South Carolina commit Mitch Jeter of the East hit a 52-yard field goal on Joseph Wells hold and Hunter Chambers snap.