Trip Report - Khalil Oliver

You see everything in recruiting, and with social networking you now expect prospective student-athletes to make their thoughts known via Twitter. But there's always the throwback, the guy that goes through recruiting without the glare of the spotlight. One such kid is Khalil Oliver, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety prospect from Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian, Idaho - a suburb of Boise.

But he talks with Rocky Mountain Head Coach Scott Criner at least 'four times a day' by Criner's estimation, so he's as well-versed on Oliver's thoughts as anyone. Oliver has made the decision to not talk to the press about recruiting until he's made a decision - a decision that was made a lot tougher when Chris Petersen announced his intentions to coach at the University of Washington. Oliver originally committed to Boise State back in May.

What does Criner see in Oliver as a football player? "What you see in him is a guy that was 175 pounds a year ago that's now 200 pounds and 6-foot-1. 14.1 high hurdles, 48-foot triple jumper as a junior at 175 pounds…he's just so much more explosive. I'm not sure he's going to be a 220-pound outside linebacker for somebody.

"Very physical, very fast. He's long. We played him more in a strong safety/outside linebacker position and brought him off the edge. He's very sudden in his movement. He can close ground quickly, and because of his length and athleticism he can take things away. Especially at the high school level the option, the zone read option stuff - he's fast enough to close on the quarterback and beat the quarterback as a back. Again, he's really physical - he'll hit you in the mouth."

So where does Criner see Oliver playing position-wise in college? "It depends on how people play him," he said. "To me, the closer to the football you play him, he's better. He can play the ball in the air, but he's just so much more effective and so much more disruptive for teams because he can get up close to the football. When he's around the action he's sudden. He can get on things and close them down quickly."

The future for Oliver was determined well before Petersen's December 6 exit from Boise - at least he thought so. "He was completely set on Boise State," Criner said. "He was going because of coach (Jimmy) Lake and coach Petersen. Those were the two main reasons why he had chosen Boise State. It opened up the process when (UW) offered him, and they came in so he asked if he could open up his recruiting so he could take a look. He de-committed from Boise State and quite honestly wanted to see what the other places had to have."

Oliver officially visited UW this past weekend, he will go to Oregon next weekend and then Boise State the final weekend before signing day. He visited with the Oregon coaches in-home Sunday and then with the new Broncos staff Monday. He'll have an in-home visit with Washington this week as well.

There was only one true reason why Oliver was intrigued with UW even after Petersen extended an offer. "It was the familiarity with coach Lake and coach Petersen," Criner said, matter-of-factly. "He didn't particularly care for the previous (UW) staff. It wasn't personal, but I don't think they reached out to him like Chris and Jimmy did. Honestly, he had a great senior year moving closer to the football, I think his stock went up. I think the Boise staff knew they had something special that they had seen. He has a really good upside.

"He wanted to come and see the city - he hadn't really given it a chance before. He was going to make an evaluation; could he see himself on that campus? He's a good student. Academics are important and he wanted to see what they had to offer academically."

Criner added that Oliver has huge academic ambitions, especially when it comes to a life after football. "He wants to get into pre-med stuff and then he wants to become a doctor," Criner said. "You're talking about a kid whose study habits…he's not a 4.0 student by any means, but he grinds. He gets in there and he works at it. If he has to get to the weight room, get his academics done - you don't ever hear about him not being in class or him not getting something completed. He gets it all done and he does a good job of it. Good student, good person…very heady kid for his age.

"He's a very analytical kid. He's not going to be impressed by the size of the stadium or the locker room or all that. He's looking at academics and then he's analyzing how people are going to use him within their scheme. His dad is a coach. He's sorting through it and gathering information.

"He's listening to what everyone is talking about, he's sorting through them one at a time and I'm betting he'll take all three of his visits and then make a decision if they give him that long. If not he'll choose from the ones he's seen."

Criner gave Oliver's immediate impressions of his official visit to Montlake. "He liked the University of Washington," he said. "He said he could see himself on that campus. He knew he was going to like the coaching staff. He had already been around them quite a bit; he committed to them early last May. He's been around them and again, it's brand-new as far as the other schools and getting to know them."

Did Oliver have any pre-conceived ideas about UW and Seattle? Had he been there before? "He had an idea…he didn't know how he'd feel going to a 'city' school, a school that had a different type of setting than Boise State," said Criner. "But he came back and his comment was, 'It's a big city but I felt comfortable. I felt good there. I could see myself going to school there'. He didn't talk about the jersey, the uniform, the locker room, the stadium - he talked about the academics and he talked about the city and picturing himself there. I think he's got his perspectives correct; he's a smart kid. He'll sort through this."

Criner believes Oliver will make a final decision either the week before the final visit weekend, or right after the Boise State visit. "You're talking about a kid that went to Boise State and looked at the academics on his own," Criner added. "He was doing that when he knew he was going to go there. I'm very confident that if they let him take all three visits that he'll make a decision after the Boise State visit. If he goes to Oregon and comes back and someone squeezes him, he'll make a decision that week - and Boise State will still be in the picture because he's done a lot of homework on his own because he was set to go there."

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