Former Bearcat going to NFL Combine

Photos contributed by Terrell Lloyd, San Jose State.

Josh Oliver projected fourth-round draft pick

Former Paso Robles Bearcat Josh Oliver, who helped lead Paso Robles to a CIF Championship in 2015 while earning All-State Division 3 first team and CIF Southern Section, Northern Division, and PAC 5 defensive lineman of the year, has been invited to and will compete in the NFL Combine following his 2018 season for San Jose State, which begins Friday.

The Paso Robles Press has reached out to several people in the community and it appears this is a first for an athlete in the North County. After leading the Bearcats to their most recent football title Oliver signed his National Letter of Intent to play tight end for San Jose State and has continued to improve each season and started in 36 of the 49 games he played.

Oliver began his career at San Jose State playing significantly in his freshman year before eventually taking over the starting spot for the final three games. As a sophomore, he scored his first touchdown and started nine total games for the Spartans but his breakout year came in 2017. In his junior season, Oliver was the team’s second-leading pass receiver and recorded at least one reception in 10 of the teams 12 contests.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pounder reeled in 35 passes for 296 yards in his junior season and began to catch the eyes of scouts. His breakout year landed him on the Mackey Preseason Award List, which is awarded to the top tight end in Division 1 in the country each year, coming into his senior season and throughout the year and proved that he belonged not only on the list but near the top.

The 2018 season was tough on the 1-11 Spartans but Oliver flourished as their most dependable and consistent weapon. He not only led the team in receptions with 56, but he also finished with the third most receptions for a tight end in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The big-bodied pass catcher was a nightmare for linebackers and safeties alike this season as he recorded a lot of his damage between the hashes and also finished fifth in the FBS in receiving for tight ends with 709 yards.

“Individually I felt like everything started clicking my senior year,” Oliver said. “I just really meshed with the offensive coordinator and I really liked the offensive scheme we were in and I felt like they were using me in the right ways to succeed. It was good to finally get that notoriety towards the end of my career but it was also a hard season too though because we weren’t getting the wins.”

Above all else, the former Bearcat was clutch and acted as his quarterback's security blanket on high leverage downs. According to the San Jose State website, 38 of his 56 receptions resulted in first downs.

While his work on the field has him is regarded as one of the top tight ends going into the draft,  his work off the field is just as impressive. Oliver was a three-time Academic All-Mountain West award winner while in college and also earned the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award his junior year.

Following the conclusion of his senior year, Oliver was invited to the Senior Bowl, which showcases the best senior players in the country each year and is televised on the NFL Network, and will be participating in the 2019 NFL Combine this weekend as he works to improve his draft status.

The Senior Bowl is coached by two NFL coaching staffs, generally the two bottom teams in the league, this year it was the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, and is the first time that many NFL teams get a chance to get an up-close look at some of the top players and others they might not have had a chance to fully study up on.  

Oliver was placed on the team coached by Kyle Shannahan and 49ers’ coaching staff, who coincidentally run one of the most tight end friendly offenses in the league and helped George Kittle develop into an All-Pro this year.

“It was a cool experience to be around NFL coaching staffs,” Oliver said. “And to just take in the different plays that they have in that pro-style offense and just kind of that West Coast scheme where they do a really good job of getting George Kittle open and putting him in situations where he can win.”

The former Bearcat met informally and formally with a number of teams but did not want to mention who as many more meetings will be coming this week.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Oliver perform this season, you will this week as the combine begins Thursday and will be covered non-stop until it ends. The tight ends will be working out with the receivers and the quarterbacks for all three days that they will be participating, starting Thursday with the measurements and medical tests.

Friday the tight end group will bench press and be the subject of media interviews with the fun stuff beginning on Saturday at 10 a.m. when they begin their on the field workouts. Locals can see close-ups of Oliver who has confirmed he will be participating in all drills. According to NFL Scouts, the NFL Combine will be big for the former Bearcat who can really help himself by running fast and improving the fluidity in his breaks at the top of his route stems.

As are most prospects, the Paso product is currently away from school in Los Angeles training with other top prospects for the draft every day.

“I think just being relaxed when I go in there and do the drills,” Oliver said of what is most important for him this weekend. “I mean, I have done all the work to this point so I just need to come out and show them what I am capable of.”

After the combine, he will return to San Jose State and continue training for his Pro Day which will be on March 20 before eventually returning home to Paso Robles to watch the NFL Draft with his friends and family.

Draft boards generally look like a doctors notepad at this point in the summer, covered in scribbles an unintelligible babble but several websites currently have Oliver going in the fourth round. He has been featured on multiple teams’ message boards and Reddit threads online as all teams are clamoring for the next big athletic tight end like Travis Kelsey or Zack Ertz. He was also mentioned in Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s “Early 2019 All-Sleeper Team.”  

To keep up with Josh Oliver and all North County alums make sure to follow Sports Editor Connor Allen (@ConnorCAllen) and the Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press of Facebook and Twitter.


Photos contributed by Terrell Lloyd, San Jose State.

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