You don’t have to search long and hard to see what will make Josh Oliver such a valuable weapon as a future college football player.
“I’m 6-5,” the Paso Robles High senior said. “You can throw the ball high and I can catch it.”
Now, whether he’s on offense or defense, he knows what jersey he’ll be wearing when he goes up for those grabs.
The 224-pound athlete, who has soft hands on offense, packs a punch on defense and can dunk a basketball from a flat-footed start, verbally committed to San Jose State late last week over other offers from Air Force and Sacramento State.
“It’s a lot of stress off my shoulders,” Oliver said Friday. “It’s good knowing where you’re going to be for the next four years.”
Oliver said he will arrive on campus next fall as an “athlete” rather than being designated to offense or defense prior to his first practice. He said he doesn’t have much of a preference whether he plays tight end or receiver, defensive end or linebacker.
In his junior year on a Paso Robles team that finished 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the PAC 7, Oliver caught 17 balls for 155 yards and one score while lining up in a multitude of positions on defense.
“He had a pretty good season last year and he’s put in a lot of work this offseason,” Bearcats coach Rich Schimke said. “He’s always been an athletic guy, and he has grown into his body. His strength has improved … and he’s improved his 40 (yard dash) time and his lateral quickness.”
The strides Oliver has taken over the past three years — and more specifically, this offseason — have Schimke brimming with excitement at the ways to utilize Oliver’s strengths this season.
From being lined up as a wideout against smaller corners to having his hand in the ground to rush the passer, Oliver’s versatility is the kind of skill that college coaches covet in their recruits, Schimke said.
“Once he gets to school, he’ll find his niche,” said Schimke, who enters his 15th season leading Paso Robles. “At the high school level, we’re going to be playing him all over the place. We’re lucky to have him and, shoot, I’m just excited to see what kind of year he has.”
Oliver came to his decision quickly on the heels of a campus visit he made three weeks ago. He had also attended the Spartans’ Junior Day six months ago, and while he wasn’t much considering the school then, his recent visits and last year’s hiring of Morgan Hill native and ex-UCLA quarterback Ron Caragher made San Jose State his first choice.
“I really like the direction San Jose State is headed toward,” Oliver said. “They moved into the Mountain West Conference and have had some really good success the past couple years.”
San Jose State finished 6-6 and 5-3 in the conference in 2013 — Caragher’s first year and the Spartans’ inaugural season in the Mountain West. Prior to that, they capped off their time in the Western Athletic Conference with an 11-2 season and a win in the Military Bowl over Bowling Green before coach Mike MacIntyre moved on to Colorado.
Oliver said he also took visits to Cal Poly, Fresno State and UC Davis in addition to the schools that offered him a scholarship.
But once he made his visit to Spartan Stadium, he wasted little time in announcing via Twitter that he’ll be wearing blue and gold.
“It’s just a huge blessing to be able to play Division I football,” Oliver said. “The worst part was having to call and tell the other coaches (from Air Force and Sacramento State). You could tell they were disappointed, but they were definitely happy for me and my decision.”