RECRUITING UPDATE: Zack Oliver
Could Catholic’s Oliver be the answer at QB?
Picture of Zack Oliver, at left, provided by Catholic High School
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Recruiting Contributor
Talk to any die-hard LSU football fan about the spring game last month, and what’s the first thing they mention?
Jordan Jefferson totaled eight completions out of 23 attempts for 94 yards and an interception, while Jarrett Lee went 10-for-20 for 114 yards and his customary touchdown both ways.
Although the 2011 recruiting class cannot help the Tigers in 2010, their quarterback of the future could be just down the road at Catholic High School in the form of Zack Oliver.
LSU has not offered him a scholarship yet, but he attended an LSU camp last summer and turned many heads within the program.
“I know [LSU is] interested in Zack, but the degree to which I’m not sure,” said Catholic coach Dale Weiner. “They definitely know about him, and they definitely are considering him.”
Oliver has enjoyed a relationship with LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton since Crowton attempted to recruit Oliver’s older brother to Louisiana Tech in the late 90s.
Oliver added he remains in contact with LSU and would consider the Tigers if they were to offer him a scholarship.
“Growing up in Baton Rouge right down the street, I’ve been around [LSU] for as long as I can remember it,” said Oliver. “I can probably spit out all the facts about LSU just off the top of my head just because I’ve been around it so long.”
But both Weiner and Oliver said a school’s location will not be a big factor in the quarterback’s decision.
“Home is home, but I wouldn’t mind going somewhere,” said Oliver. “It’s not that big of a dilemma for me.”
Weiner said Oliver would be attracted to any college that’s committed to throwing the football.
“You look at what their priorities are, what systems they’re currently running and how committed they are to doing what you do best,” said Weiner. “He’s a great passer, and he’s a big guy, and I think he’s going to be an outstanding college passing quarterback.”
At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Oliver has prototypical college quarterback size.
“He moves in the pocket very well. He avoids pressure and has sort of an innate sense of moving and staying alive and keeping the play alive,” said Weiner. “And he’s willing to take the hit to get the ball off at the last possible second if he needs to get guys open.”
Northwestern, Tulsa, Arkansas St. and Memphis offered Oliver a scholarship so far, and he recently visited Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, Ill., over Easter Break.
“Their campus was really nice. Their coaches were great. People were really cool, and the town was all around pretty good,” said Oliver. “I enjoyed that, but I’m not really leaning anywhere right now - just trying to take it all in, put everything together and try to make my decision from there.”
Oliver said he would probably make his commitment before his senior season at Catholic begins so he doesn’t have to worry about it when he’s working with his teammates.
“I want to focus as much as I possibly can on this year’s road to the state championship,” said Oliver.
Oliver enjoyed incredible success in his junior campaign for Catholic, leading the Bears to the semifinals of the state 5A playoffs. He tallied 32 touchdowns while only throwing seven interceptions and racked up a whopping 2,579 passing yards. He completed 60.4 percent of his passes and added five rushing touchdowns.
Weiner said Oliver should have no problem adjusting to a college system, because the Bears run multiple offenses with both shotgun and I-formation sets.
“I think we’re diverse enough in what we do that I think our guys can adjust to wherever they’re going,” said Weiner. “We ran more shotgun spread than we have in the past, and that’s dictated by personnel. We’ve got a great passer.”
Oliver impressed scouts in shorts and a tee-shirt at the Clarkson Dream Maker Tour in New Orleans March 19 and 20.
ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill covered the event and wrote in his report Oliver really upped his stock.
“The ball comes out extremely smooth and fluid, which is his best attribute,” wrote Luginbill in his report. “He gets good zip on throws outside the numbers and down the sideline. Oliver was also very impressive when throwing on the move and consistently hit the target when rolling out to either side.”
Although Oliver won’t overwhelm you with his athleticism, Weiner said the 4.8, 40-yard dash quarterback is more athletic than people give him credit for.
“He’s a physical guy,” said Weiner. “When he does tuck it, he’d just assume run over you than run around you.”
Oliver even compared his style of play to that of Tim Tebow.
“I feel like I have a little bit better release than he does, but we have the same mentality,” said Oliver. “I like to throw my head in there, but I feel like I can throw the ball pretty well if the situation calls for it. I will do just about whatever the coach tells me to do. I feel I’m pretty coachable.”