Culture / Sporting Life

Ed Oliver Playing Offense is No Refrigerator Perry Gimmick

Future No. 1 Overall Pick Shrugs Off Injury Risks to Put His Houston Teammates First

BY // 08.06.18

Ed Oliver has long been the most devastating defensive player in college football. It’s no major stretch to say Oliver even hurried along the retirement of Bob Stoops with his dominant performance against Oklahoma in the 2016 opener. He definitely made Tom Herman a bunch of money.

The University of Houston’s defensive tackle is that revolutionary.

But now — with the vision of him becoming the No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft very much in focus — Oliver is set to play a little offense, too. It’s like if Michelangelo decided to moonlight as a chef while completing David.

It’s also an absolutely brilliant bit of nerve.

At point when many potential No. 1 picks largely concentrate on just avoiding injury (see Jadeveon Clowney‘s last season at South Carolina), Oliver is instead attacking the season to come — and reaching for more. Oliver is putting his teammates, his university and the season first.

The idea of the 6-foot-something, 290-pound Oliver toting the football as a running back isn’t just delicious fun or good TV theater.

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It’s smart strategy. Playing Ed Oliver on offense is much more Charles Woodson than Refrigerator Perry. Oliver isn’t some oversized goliath carrying the ball in goal line situations as a gimmick (in fact, one of the few knocks against his No. 1 pick status is that he’s on the small side for a defensive tackle).

Oliver is a real athlete, a marvel of quickness and first burst. He’s capable of making a would be tackler miss — as much as he’s capable of blowing right through a would be tackler.

Charles Woodson 2.0

Just like Charles Woodson made the University of Michigan better on offense during his Heisman Trophy winning season, using Ed Oliver on offense makes the Cougars more dangerous, too.

“I’ve got the green light from the head man, so that’s the No. 1 key,” UH offensive coordinator Kendal Briles says of using Oliver on his side of the ball. “But yeah, I mean the guy’s the most talented guy on the team, so if we can incorporate him down there then we’ll do that.”

It’s like if Michelangelo decided to moonlight as a chef while completing David.

Oliver deserves some more chances with the ball in his hands — and not just for the type of one-yard touchdown burst he had against Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.

Why not line Oliver up at tight end in some goal-line packages too, much like Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien deployed J.J. Watt in his first season as head coach? Playmakers make plays — no matter what side of the ball you put them on.

Oliver probably needs some two-way highlights to have any chance at winning the Heisman Trophy. Even though there is little real debate on his status as the best player in college football today (see all of Oliver’s preseason accolades for reference), he’ll be given little opportunity by Heisman voters as a pure defensive player.

That’s not the reason you play Ed Oliver on offense, though. You do it because he’ll be good at it.

And because he wants to do it.

The best player in college football is engaged and ready to dominate all over again. Oliver is not running from injury. He’s running toward doing something even more special.

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