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"It's just like something clicked in my head and made me decide it's my time
Talented Bolton ready to step up for Blue Devils

NORCROSS - It's a memory that is still quite fresh in the mind of Norcross head football coach Keith Maloof, one that makes him chuckle just at the thought of it.

Thirteen years ago, Maloof was the head coach at Tucker High School and one of his players was Tony Bolton.

Tony had a little brother named Devonta, who even as a 5-year-old made a lasting impression on his older sibling's head coach.

"I've known him since he was a little-bitty thing, when he was a fat kid with glasses," Maloof said. "And he was just one of those kids that was always running around and having fun."

Devonta ain't so little anymore. And he's definitely not fat. But he still makes it a point to run around and have fun, only now it's on Friday nights as one of the best senior football players in Georgia.

The Norcross star has already committed to play receiver at the University of Alabama, but he could have also played defense for a number of other high-profile

programs.

The 6-foot-4, 220 pound physical specimen shakes his head when he thinks about his skyrocketing football career.

"Man, I thought I was going to be a hog when I was a little," Bolton said. "I just thought I was going to be a fat lineman."

Not quite.

Instead he's become half of what almost has to be the best receiver tandem in Class AAAAA. Along with fellow senior Brice Butler, who committed to Southern Cal the same day Bolton verbaled to Alabama, the Blue Devils feature two of the top wideout prospects in the southeast.

But there's one major difference between the two talented pass catchers, as far as Bolton sees it anyway. Butler has actually performed like a star receiver on Friday nights before - he caught 37 passes for 662 yards (a 17.9 yard-per-catch average) and a team-leading nine touchdowns in 2006.

Though Bolton has been starting at safety for the Blue Devils since he was a sophomore, he was the team's third option at receiver last year behind Butler and current Alabama freshman Darius Hanks.

He caught 17 passes for 220 yards and one score in 2006. This season, he will be expected to produce much more in the Blue Devils' offense. And while he has shown flashes of brilliance as a receiver the past two seasons, he comes into his senior season with just 28 career catches and three touchdowns.

So you might naturally think that Bolton feels he has something to prove in 2007.

But you might be wrong.

"I did feel that way, but during the summer (in passing leagues and 7-on-7 tournaments) I showed them everything I can do," Bolton said. "I don't feel the need to go out there and prove anything.

"I know what I'm capable of, my teammates know what I'm capable of, my coaches definitely know what I'm capable of," Bolton said. "And I don't know, it's just like something clicked in my head and made me decide it's my time."

Not that Bolton seems all that worried about individual accomplishments.

In fact, he repeatedly goes out of his way to talk about his major goal for the 2007 season: Winning a state championship.

He also discusses the "Norcross family," and how much his current teammates mean to him.

"I love those guys," Bolton said.

And they love him right back. Despite being a top-flight recruit and a future SEC player, Bolton is about as good-natured and friendly as a kid could be. And according to his head coach, he's a terrific teammate.

"He's just a great kid, he really is," Maloof said. "He always has a smile on his face and he always works hard."

Not everyone smiles back though, especially opposing cornerbacks who have the unlucky responsibility of trying to cover Bolton.

Because while he might be a great teammate to play with, and a very polite athlete to interview, he can be downright scary to guard.

"We were in a formation the other night (against Walton in a scrimmage) where I was backside one-on-one with the corner," Bolton said. "Their safeties were on the other side of the field and the cornerback looked at me and I saw like fear in his face ... I could tell he was scared."

So what happened on the play?

"They threw it to me, I made him miss and I got a first down on the play," Bolton said.

With all the terrorizing of defensive backs he'll be doing this year, maybe his nickname should be the "Boogyman." Though with a unique first name like "Devonta," a nickname probably isn't needed.

"It came from my dad," Bolton said. "He said the name just came to him one night in a dream and so he just ran with it."

And his son has pretty much been running ever since.

SideBar: The Bolton File

' Name: Devonta Bolton

' School: Norcross

' Class: Senior

' Position: Wide receiver/Defensive back

' Size: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds

' College choice: Alabama

' Other Division I-A offers: Georgia, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina among others

' Noteworthy:

' Three-year starter on defense for Blue Devils

' Has 28 career catches on offense

' Favorite music artist: Lil' Wayne

' Favorite food: Lasagna

' Favorite movie: "Remember the Titans"

' Best hit he's ever made: "It was actually on offense. I was playing receiver and it was a running play and the safety was coming down on run-support and didn't see me at all. And I just de-cleated him. Both of his feet went into the air."

n Coach Keith Maloof's comment:

"He's got great hands. He can jump. He's very athletic. He likes to go across the middle, but he can also run outs. He's just a great target for our quarterbacks."