Jake Oliver loves to block. In fact, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver says one of his biggest thrills each Friday night is getting a chance to knock a defender on his back.
Oliver also loves to catch passes. And the Jesuit (Dallas) junior catches a lot of passes.
This past season, he earned a spot on the ESPNHS Underclass All-American team after hauling in 108 passes for 1,637 yards and 24 touchdowns, numbers that most high school receivers would be happy to have in a career. Oliver has snagged 215 passes during his three years with the Rangers.
Oliver has learned a lot about being a wide receiver from his father, Gary, a former standout wideout at Texas A&M who later served as offensive coordinator at Sam Houston State and led Bishop Lynch (Dallas) to two state titles.
The ESPNU 150 Watch List receiver also had plenty of support from his dad and the rest of his family during the recruiting process. Though Oliver’s father and mother both attended A&M and his brother is a student at Oklahoma, he says none them tried to sway him toward their respective schools.
Instead, they let him handle recruiting on his own terms, and Oliver ultimately decided to commit to Texas last month.
So what does Oliver plan on doing now that his commitment is out of the way? Get Familiar with the standout pass-catcher.
ESPNHS: What’s the most important thing you learned from your father about playing wide receiver?
Oliver: You can have all the athletic talent in the world, but if you can’t get open, it will all go to waste. Practice makes you better all the time. Even going out for 30 minutes helps you a lot. I always catch and throw with my dad. I turn to my left and my right, over-the-shoulder catches — every situation I could be in during a game, he throws me that pass. Every possible catch I can think of, we’ve worked on it. We also work with tennis balls. It teaches you reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
ESPNHS: What’s an underrated aspect of your game?
Oliver: I take a lot of pride in my blocking. I’m a big receiver, and blocking has to be a big part of my game. If you block for your teammates, it can set up big plays. I also like to get after the DBs just to let ‘em know that I’ll be there all night and they better be ready. I love contact and love knocking people down.
ESPNHS: How do you deal with all the attention on the field?
Oliver: Almost every game I see double coverage. You’ve got to fight through it. But I could get zero catches and be happy as long as we got the win. Coach (Brandon) Hickman puts me in good position to run the right routes and break these coverages. You’ve got adjust. It’s usually the corner pressing me and then the safety coming over the top (to help).
ESPNHS: How relieved were you after you committed to Texas?
Oliver: It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders. There were a lot of things to think about leading up to the decision. Everybody trying to sway you, just thinking about what would be the best place to be — it was kind of overwhelming. Texas was always up there with my favorite schools, but since they didn’t offer until their junior day, I wasn’t sure. Once they offered, it was really cool. Not too many people can say that’s happened to them, and I feel blessed it happened to me.
I can’t imagine being anywhere else. My grandparents come to all my games and I’d love for them to come see my college games. It’s got a great tradition, great family atmosphere and great academics. Those are just some of the many reasons why I picked Texas.
ESPNHS: How did your family deal with your recruitment?
Oliver: My dad loves A&M, but he said, “It’s your decision. It’s not up to me. I’ll support you no matter what." My mom and my brother said the same thing.
School: Jesuit (Dallas)
Position: Wide receiver
TV Show: “How I Met Your Mother”
Movie: “Dumb and Dumber” and “Friday Night Lights”
Musical Artists: Blake Shelton and Lil Wayne
Athletes: Calvin Johnson and Justin Blackmon
Team: Dallas Cowboys
School Subject: World history