The sports calendar at Catholic High has played out to near perfection over the past year, seeing the Bears secure state titles in wrestling, indoor track, outdoor track, cross country and, after last weekend, baseball.
If the program could put the football team’s starting quarterback in purple and gold as a commitment to LSU’s 2011 class, Bears fans would consider it icing on the cake.
Zack Oliver, who wrapped up his junior campaign with 2,587 yards passing (191-of-308), 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions, will head to LSU’s campus on June 6th and work out in front of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and head coach Les Miles.
Perhaps more importantly, the staff will see Oliver work alongside the rest of the candidates to become commitments to the class.
“Coach Crowton wants to see how I look when I throw next to the other guys that the staff has offered,” Oliver said. “He’s seen my film and watched me in person, but this will give him a different view for the evaluation. From what he told (Catholic High head coach Dale Weiner), I can expect an answer that Sunday as to whether or not LSU will offer.”
If the past month plays a role in the staff’s decision, Oliver is confident that the news will be good.
During April’s Nike Football Training Camp on the LSU campus, Oliver took home MVP honors. More impressive was that prior to taking reps that Saturday, tossing around the pigskin had been on the backburner.
“During track season I throw the javelin, so I hadn’t really focused on football much at all,” Oliver said. “I was kind of rusty headed into that day, but I still managed to get into a good rhythm and make some good plays. Since then I have really picked things up and gotten back to where I was at during the season.”
Crowton, on a quarterback evaluation tour that has taken him near and far this spring, has kept the contact consistent as decision day draws near, even stopping in on Catholic’s practice last week.
“Coach Crowton came and watched me throw during one of our situational team drills, so he got a good chance to see me do a lot of different work,” Oliver said. “When I called him later that day he said that I had improved my game a lot.
“He won’t be able to make my spring game this week, so he asked for me to get him a copy of that.”
Crowton isn’t the only person talking about the strides Oliver’s game has made.
En route to MVP honors at the NFTC, the 6-foot-4, 218-pounder impressed scouts with his footwork, which Oliver said has been the chief focus of his offseason workouts.
“I got my 40-yard dash time down to 4.7,” said Oliver, who rushed for 400 yards last season. “Getting better with my feet, especially for the running game, is something I have needed to work on. If I can get my head down and get used to running it, then I think I will be that much better of an all-around quarterback.”
Scholarship offers are in from Northwestern, Tulsa, Memphis, Arkansas State, San Diego State and South Alabama. As more college coaches come through town this spring, Oliver expects that number to grow.
“Louisville gave me a call on Friday and then came to practice (Monday),” he said. “They want to take two quarterbacks this year. They graduate two seniors, and with two freshmen coming in, one will be the starter.
“For now I am just going to play it by ear. I will be at the LSU camp first, then I’ll check out Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M and then Northwestern at the end of the summer.”