People around the Hattiesburg area know about Purvis as a town and as a football team, but pretty soon, the entire state will get acquainted, if they already haven’t, with two of the better players in the state.
Watch out, because Purvis could have one of the best wide receiver-running back combinations this season.
Senior receiver C.J. Bolar and senior running back John Bolton makeup the scary 1-2 punch for the Tornadoes offense. Bolar caught 40 passes for 732 yards and 12 touchdowns – a 18-yard per reception percentage – as a junior in 2016, and Bolton rushed for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns on 195 attempts – a 5.4-yard per carry average.
As a team, Purvis was very run oriented last season, but Bolar was still able to collect 59 percent of the team’s 1,244 passing yards. With a healthy Ty Howell at quarterback, the passing numbers should see an upward trajectory.
Not only is the skillset there for Bolar, he’s trying to become a better leader for his football team.
“I want to be the hardest working person on this team, because you have to lead example,” he said. “If you’re doing hard, then everybody who looks up to you is going to do bad because you’re doing it.”
The 6-foot-2-inch receiver is a consensus 3-star by the top high school recruiting services, and he’s ranked as high as the No. 2 receiver in Mississippi. In the spring, Bolar saw an influx of scholarship offers from schools across the country. Southern Miss, Memphis, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Louisville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UMASS, Syracuse, North Carolina and Iowa State are just a few of the Bolar’s 20-plus offers.
“You really just think of the next fours year, and how you’re going to live your life, how it’s going to help you as a person and become a better man,” Bolar said of his thought process during recruiting.
Bolar committed to Iowa State in May, but announced his decommitment on Twitter a month later.
“It was really the fact that if I went that far, my parents wouldn’t be able see me play, and they’ve been a big part of my life,” Bolar said. “I want to look up in the stands and know they’re there to support me.”
For the ground game, Bolton was part of a rushing attack that totaled 3,008 yards and 30 touchdowns, as he makes up slightly more than 33 percent of the production.
He tallied his 1,049 yards on an injured ankle last season, which caused him to miss a couple of games at the beginning of the season. He was still able to rack up four straight 100-yards games, including a 249-yard, three-touchdown performance against Greene County.
The success of his junior season has just made Bolton hungrier. He’s making sure every second of his day is used to get better in anticipation for his final season at Purvis.
“The main thing is just getting in the weight room getting bigger, coming out here and getting faster and stronger and making sure I eat right and sleep right,” he said.
Bolton, who was the leading rusher for Purvis by more than 400 yards, will be in the backfield with Howell, who rushed for 536 yards on 70 attempts from his quarterback position. The two will provide a strong rushing attack.
“We can have a really good season, and a lot of people think so,” Bolton said. “I think we can do it.”
The 6-1 running back hasn’t seen the boom in recruiting that’s been expected, but Bolton is using that as motivation heading into his senior season. Bolton holds several offers from smaller schools, but his South Alabama offer, which was the first one he received in April, is the biggest one.
He’s made trips to UAB, South Alabama and Southern Miss this summer for camps, and those are the schools he really wants to take a closer look.