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Receiver Victor Bolden ready for Oregon State’s changes

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Ask Oregon State receiver Victor Bolden what he did this summer, and he’ll reel off the rote football-related answers about putting in time at the gym and conditioning. But then a smile spreads across his face.

”My summer GPA was a 4.0,” he said. ”I’m most proud of that.”

Bolden, a junior majoring in public health, is about to embark on a pivotal season, not just for the Beavers but also for himself, with a new coach and a new system.

Oregon State is coming off a 5-7 season, after which longtime coach Mike Riley unexpectedly bolted for the top job at Nebraska. The Beavers hired Gary Andersen, who had spent the last two seasons at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to a 19-7 record over the span.

Andersen and Riley couldn’t be more different as coaches, Bolden said. Not taking anything away from Riley, Andersen is fiercely detail-oriented.

Andersen is one of the reasons Bolden was inspired academically; the receiver says the coach is encouraging his players in the classroom by offering tutors and talking up good study habits.

Andersen said the emphasis on academics is part of establishing a new program.

”I think the key thing is just to lay out your plan and let the young men understand what your core beliefs are and that what we say is what we’re going to do,” Andersen said. ”The strides we’ve made academically in two quarters and the summer is substantial. Our GPA has risen substantially on this football team and that’s a great sign.”

Bolden is excited about the changes he’s seen so far.

”Coach definitely emphasizes that we have to be on our game, on the field and off,” he said.

Last season, Bolden caught 72 passes for 798 yards and two touchdowns. Against Washington, he caught 10 passes for 145 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown.

His quarterback was Sean Mannion, the prolific senior who set the all-time conference record for career passing yards with 13,600 and a school record for touchdown passes with 83. Mannion is now with the St. Louis Rams.

Andersen will bring a spread offense to the Beavers, who used more of a pro-style offense under Riley with Mannion. That likely means that Bolden’s role this season will change.

And the Beavers will likely be forced to run the ball more anyway with an inexperienced quarterback. None of the three who are vying to start have taken a snap in a Pac-12 game.

The front-runner appears to be freshman Seth Collins, who generated buzz in spring practice and threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 74 yards in the spring game. Redshirt freshmen Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion will also compete to start at quarterback.

”They all bring something different,” Bolden said. ”Nick is really good as far as his throwing arm. He has a strong arm. Marcus is good in space and is very good at making a play continue, and Seth, as you’ve probably seen, his running ability is good. So they all bring something different to the table.”

Bolden is confident he’ll still see a share of the action.

”I think as the season goes on you’ll see the ball in the air more,” he said. ”I’m not worried about it.”

Frankly, Bolden is just worried about helping his team win. He is one of six Pac-12 players who have been named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list. The honor goes to the nation’s top wide receiver.

Bolden, who is from Rancho Cucamonga, California, was also among a group of players who participated in a special forces leadership development program at Camp Williams in Utah.

While the culture in Corvallis may be changing, Bolden said his overall goal hasn’t.

”Being a playmaker for our team,” he said. ”Giving our team a little jolt of energy and giving us a little momentum, I feel like I bring that to the table.”

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