COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou sophomore weakside LB Nick Bolton is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, announced today by the league office. Bolton’s play sparked a dominant defensive performance by Mizzou in the 38-7 win over West Virginia last Saturday. He reset career-highs in tackles (10), tackles for loss (3.0) and added a pair of interceptions, the latter of which was a 20-yard pick six.
This is the first career honor for Bolton and he is the first Mizzou player to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week since DT Jordan Elliott did so on Nov. 26, 2018, following his performance against Arkansas. He’s the second Tiger linebacker to win SEC defensive POW honors since we joined the league in 2012. He joins Kentrell Brothers as the only other Tiger to win the league’s weekly award, as Brothers won the award two times in his All-American career, claiming honors as a sophomore in 2013 against Georgia, and again as a senior in 2015 against Arkansas State.
Bolton’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter last Saturday was the Tigers' first defensive score since Akial Byers recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the Tigers' 38-0 victory over Arkansas last season.
Bolton is the first Mizzou player since Sean Weatherspoon (recorded a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 52-42 victory over Illinois on Aug. 30, 2008) to record two interceptions in the same game with at least one being a touchdown return. Of course, Weatherspoon is one of Mizzou's all-time greatest players and a former first-round draft pick, so Bolton finds himself in pretty elite company. The two had a friendly Twitter exchange following the game in which Weatherspoon was quick to point out that he's the only Mizzou player with a pick-six score in back-to-back games.
Bolton became the first Tiger linebacker with a pair of interceptions in a game since 2015, when All-American Kentrell Brothers had two picks against Arkansas State.
Mizzou’s defense, sparked by the play of Bolton, held WVU to only 30 yards rushing on the day (with 32 yards coming in its final two drives against Tiger reserves) – that’s the fewest allowed to a Power 5 opponent since 2009, when Mizzou held Colorado to minus-14 yards rushing in a 36-17 win. Mizzou allowed only 171 yards of offense to the Mountaineers – the fewest by any FBS opponent in the Barry Odom era, and the fewest overall by an FBS team against Mizzou since 2013, when the Tigers limited Florida to just 151 yards of total offense in a 36-17 win.
On the year, Bolton now has 19 tackles (second-most on the team), a team-high 3.0 tackles for loss, a team-high two interceptions and a pass breakup.