A week ago, Jason Oliver was weighing his college options while gearing up for his final semester of high school and one last season with the track and field team.
On Monday morning, he boarded an airplane with a one-way ticket to Colorado, leaving high school behind as he embarks on a new journey.
A cornerback from Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif., Oliver committed to Colorado on Thursday, got enrolled in school and began packing his bags.
“I’m very excited,” Oliver said prior to leaving for Boulder. “Nervous, but excited nervous because now I’m just ready to get down there and start training and lifting and just get to playing football.”
A 6-foot, 165-pound corner, Oliver is a three-star prospect who had 10 scholarship offers, including from Boise State, California, Colorado State, Oregon State and Utah.
Oliver’s decision to commit to CU and leave high school early came together quickly.
CU signed three prep cornerbacks in December but has since lost both of last season’s starting corners — Mekhi Blackmon and Christian Gonzalez — to the transfer portal. Shortly after Blackmon put his name in the portal on Jan. 8, CU offered Oliver an opportunity to join the team right away.
“They’re in a unique position because they had a couple of DBs that transferred out,” Oliver said. “Going early I think is a really good opportunity to get to play in front of the coaches and fight for a starting spot.
“I wasn’t planning on it, but I set myself up to where I could graduate early if I needed to. I was thinking about staying to run track, but I’m fine with either decision. … When they extended that offer, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity, so I just went ahead and locked it down.”
Oliver, who ran hurdles for his high school’s track team, said it’s tough to abruptly leave home and the friends he’s had for so many years, but added, “It’s the best decision for me.”
Prior to landing in Denver on Monday to begin his college journey, Oliver had never been to the state of Colorado, let alone seeing the CU campus in person.
“It’s exciting and crazy,” he said. “I’m ready to for it. I’m ready to go out into a new area. … I’ve seen a couple of facilities around the campus because I know a couple people that go to school, so I have a little idea of how it looks like.”
Oliver, who grew up watching Pac-12 football, is looking forward to joining a crowded group of young cornerbacks. He is the fourth prep cornerback in CU’s 2022 class, joining Simeon Harris, Keyshon Mills and Josh Wiggins. Oliver will join Wiggins as an early enrollee.
“I think that helps a lot,” he said of others being young. “They’re gonna be doing the same thing. They’re gonna be going through the same things I’m going through, trying to figure everything out. It’s gonna be a process that we could go through together and it’ll be a cool situation.”
For now, CU is projected to have only six scholarship cornerbacks for spring football, as long as juniors Nigel Bethel Jr. and Jaylen Striker, both who were injured last season, are ready to go. Oliver is looking forward to getting a lot of reps in to improve his craft.
Asked about his strengths as a corner, Oliver said, “I feel my hips are a strength I have, being able to get out of my break and stuff like that, being able to switch directions really fast. I think that’s probably my strength.”
There is no shortage of things to improve upon, however.
“Everything,” he said. “You always got to work on everything.”