Oct. 10, 2009
Bolles to Soy, 10 and Counting
By Bryan Boettcher, Northwest Director of Athletic Media Relations and Sports Information
The secret is officially out of the bag. Blake Bolles isn't just a running quarterback and Jake Soy is an elite receiver. The duo proved that again last Saturday, hooking up nine times for 142 yards and three scores. It was part of a five-touchdown performance by Bolles who's thrown 17 touchdowns in six starts. Soy has caught 10 of them.
The start of the 2009 season couldn't have come soon enough for the duo. Bolles shined as a sophomore, but played second-fiddle while Joel Osborn strung together an MVP season. Soy missed the first four games last year with a rib injury and caught 10 passes in the 11 games he appeared.
Interestingly enough, those two factors helped mold the product Northwest fans are witnessing this season. Bolles and Soy worked together on the second-team offense for nearly all of 2008 and the relationship continued into winter and spring workouts.
"I was the running quarterback last year so I'd take off and the first person I'd see was Soy and he always seemed to be there," said Bolles. "I remember thinking, I can't wait to throw to that kid. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Bolles grew up in Lincoln cheering for the Huskers. Soy was raised a Hawkeye fan in eastern Iowa. He lived 30 minutes from Kinnick Stadium. Neither had heard of Maryville, Mo.
Bolles excelled as a pitcher and outfielder on the diamond and assumed he'd play baseball in college. After all, he didn't go out for football until his freshman year and even then was placed on the freshman "B" team. Hearing his high school coach tell him he wasn't good enough to play in college after his junior season didn't exactly boost his confidence.
Nebraska-Omaha was the only school looking at Bolles and invited him to walk on. Shortly after that invitation, Bolles received a call from Scott Bostwick.
"He said we weren't planning on recruiting a quarterback this year, but we got your highlight tape and have some extra money," said Bolles. "I came for a work out, threw some passes to Lambo (Josh Lamberson), ran some 40s and took the tour. They called me later that night and offered me a scholarship."
Soy grew up a running back and averaged more than 40 yards per carry his senior year of high school. His speed and 40-inch vertical made him a state qualifier in track. He excelled on the hardwood as well and was close to choosing basketball over football as his college sport. He never wanted to do both.
Soy received a lot more interest from colleges for his football skills and was set to visit Iowa when he received a request from Northwest to send film. Two days later, a visit to Maryville was set up and a scholarship was offered.
"I'd never heard of Northwest, but coach (Rich) Wright used to coach at nearby St. Ambrose and had heard about me," said Soy. "The day before my visit, Coach Wright and Coach (Mel) Tjeerdsma drove four hours to watch me play basketball in Iowa City.
"I came on a visit in January and Coach gave me the option to play safety or receiver. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to play receiver. I never saw myself playing running back in college."
Both Bolles and Soy benefitted from a redshirt season to hone their positions. Bolles' decision to wait a year was decided after viewing the offensive playbook for the first time. Soy needed time to learn a new position.
"I realized I was behind in coming from a small school," said Soy. "My routes were bad and I didn't know what I was doing. Joel helped out a lot. He wasn't a starter at that point either so we stayed and ran routes together every day after practice."
Soy also acknowledged the support of the veteran receivers, especially from one of this year's captains, Abe Qaoud. Those relationships remain strong throughout the position, even as freshmen Tyler Shaw and Jordan Simmons have entered the mix. Bolles has hit six different receivers with touchdowns.
"I've been fortunate to be on the receiving end of a lot of touchdowns," said Soy. "We have a lot of guys who came make the same plays. I've just been blessed to have the most opportunities.
"We rotate a lot of receivers and we have to be an unselfish group for that to work. You also have to compete every week to earn a spot. Nothing's guaranteed."
Bolles certainly doesn't mind the variety.
"I have confidence in a lot of guys and not only can they catch the football, but they can do something with it afterwards," said Bolles. "It makes it easy to play my position when you have receivers like that."
By the time this season ends, there's a good chance Bolles and Soy will challenge the records Chris Greisen and Tony Miles set in 1998, a season in which Greisen passed for 38 touchdowns and Miles caught 16. Fortunately this duo is just getting started.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468