Oliver Watch Underway

From Jamie Rotella to Darrin Miller to Bill Duff to Rashad Baker to Turk McBride, the state of New Jersey has sent a serious series of hard-nosed, high-RPM, heavy-hitting defenders to The Hill.

The next to join this legacy of New Jersey athlete elites to blossom as a Big Orange predator in the jungles of the SEC might well be Nyshier Oliver, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound running back, wide receiver, defensive back from St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City.

Although he rushed for 1,400 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior, the 4.4 speedster, prefers the demands of defense to the scoring opportunities of offense. That by itself makes him unique, but add his ability to play safety or corner and you have a rare find.

That explains why he has more than 20 scholarships on the table including offers from Alabama, Boston College, Georgia, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia and, of course, Tennessee. Ranked No. 21 among the nation's crop of safety prospects, Oliver enjoys four-star and top 300 status according to Scout.com. He led St. Peter's Prep with four interceptions last fall.

Tennessee has followed Oliver's high school career, and he has been following the Vols since he was in the third grade, which was about the same time UT won the national championship. He has referred to Tennessee in print as his "dream school."

He backed up that proclamation by driving eight hours with his father from the banks of the Hudson, a ferry ride from New York City, to Knoxville earlier this month, and he found the destination was well worth the long drive.

Oliver and his father got a tour of the facilities and he had his picture taken holding the national championship trophy. They also had a personal visit with Coach Phillip Fulmer in which they discussed what Oliver was looking for in a school and what UT had to offer. Secondary coach Larry Slade also spent time mapping out a role he envisions for Oliver in Tennessee's secondary. Oliver told State of Rutgers.com" "the visit blew me away."

Oliver, who indicates he that he is looking at academics, relationships with coaches and the level of competition a school plays in formulating his decision. He has also made unofficial visits to Rutgers, Boston College, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Although he could continue to make visits and expand his options throughout the summer he appears to have endured as much of the recruiting process as he can. Plans call for Oliver to confer with his family soon and come up with a finalists list of two or three teams. Then again he could decide to cut to the chase and simply announce his choice.

Rutgers and Tennessee appear to be two of his favorites, and it may come down to whether he wants to stay closer to home or if he wants to travel further to compete against stronger competition. However Boston College remains a contender as may one of the other SEC schools that have offered.

Tennessee fans shouldn't have to hold their collective breath long.

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