'This is kinda crazy': Oklahoma State's Collin Oliver wins FWAA Most Inspirational Freshman award
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements has a well-established relationship with Chris Rose, the defensive coordinator at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
Rose and the Santa Fe program have previously sent star players such as Calvin Bundage and Trace Ford to OSU, where they found great success with the Cowboy defense.
“When (Rose) calls and says, ‘I have another one,’ well, you’re gonna go watch him,” Clements said. “That’s what he did. He called and said, ‘Hey, I have another one.’”
That player was defensive end Collin Oliver, who was only a sophomore at Santa Fe at the time of the phone call.
On Monday — three years later — Oliver was named to the Freshman All-American team by the Football Writers Association of America, as well as the winner of the organization’s Most Inspirational Freshman award for his exploits in his first season at Oklahoma State.
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Oliver had 11.5 sacks, most by any freshman at a Power 5 program, as well as 15.5 tackles for loss, leading the Cowboys in both statistical categories.
“This is kinda crazy,” Oliver said Monday night on a video conference hosted by the FWAA. “A year ago, I was in high school, and all this stuff is coming right now, so it’s pretty surreal. I’m trying to take it in, little by little, being humble, just trying to do me out on the football field.”
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Oliver enrolled at OSU last January and went through winter conditioning, then spring practice, setting the stage for his tremendous true freshman season.
Despite finding success early, his freshman year came with some trials as well.
“Getting over those certain times in games when you wouldn’t be doing stuff, you wouldn’t be contributing to the team — or at least that’s how I felt,” Oliver said. “I felt like certain games, certain times in games, I wasn’t doing things for the team. Just getting over those mental bumps during games and in the season, that was probably the biggest challenge for me.”
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While it would have been impossible to predict such a stellar season from a true freshman on the defensive line, Clements has seen Oliver’s development since that sophomore year of high school when Rose first alerted the OSU coaches to the young player’s talent.
“By the time he ended his sophomore season of high school, we had a pretty good idea that he had a chance to be a very quality football player,” Clements said. “By the time he signed with Oklahoma State as a senior… I was most amazed with just how quality of a young man he was. He was very mature for his age.
“He’s achieved a lot of accolades because of the stuff that he’s done on the field… the game of football is gonna take him a long ways, but his character and his work ethic and the type of young man he is is gonna take him a lot further.”
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OSU football: Collin Oliver named FWAA Most Inspirational Freshman