Tobias Oliver became the 15th commitment of Georgia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class when he committed on November 27th, just 6 days after the commitment of Jerry Howard, and just over 24 hours after Georgia Tech’s 28-27 win in the 2016 edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. He’s listed at 6’2”, weighs in around 175 pounds, and comes to Georgia Tech from Northside High School in Warner Robins, GA. He committed to the Yellow Jackets over offers from Troy, Mercer, and Army, and with reported interest from georgia and Georgia Southern. Oliver is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals (5.5) and the 247Sports Composite (0.8423).
Oliver’s relatively low rating and limited interest from major programs is peculiar. His senior year, MaxPreps lists him as having over 2,900 yards of offense between passing, rushing, and receiving, with 32 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He led his team to an 11-3 record with a state semifinals appearance, commanding a devastating offense along the way. On National Signing Day, Georgia Tech’s coaches spoke highly of his character and competitive drive, and about his intention to be the Yellow Jackets’ starting QB right away. Between his obvious physical abilities and apparent leadership abilities, it’s unclear to me why Oliver didn’t get any more attention from other Power-5 programs. I’ll say, though, that I have a strong suspicion that he would have gotten more if he hadn’t committed in the midst of his team’s playoff run, before the home stretch of recruiting in January.
A look at Oliver’s senior highlights makes it immediately apparent what the Yellow Jackets’ coaching staff sees in him. Oliver’s length, athleticism, and running abilities are excellent and should translate very well to the next level. He shows great balance to extend runs and cause would-be tacklers lots of issues. His acceleration is really impressive, and his top-end speed is a strong quality as well. He’s a very natural runner, and seems comfortable running between the tackles or on the perimeter. His 4 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, as well as his 7.5 points per game as a SG/SF on the basketball court, are also indicative of Oliver’s overall athleticism — he’s far more than just a quarterback.
As impressive as he is, though, Oliver has work to do in order to succeed as a quarterback on the Flats, primarily in the passing game. His arm motion is a little slow, and seems very unnatural. Also, as with most high school quarterbacks today, he seemingly worked exclusively from the shotgun, and will need to work on his footwork in order to play from under center at Georgia Tech. The other thing he’ll need to do in college is add weight to his frame — at only 175 pounds, he’ll need a bit more muscle to help him stay healthy at the college level.
What to Expect
Georgia Tech’s long-term QB situation is very muddy right now. Following Justin Thomas’s send-off in the TaxSlayer Bowl win over Kentucky, the heir apparent seems to be rising junior Matthew Jordan. That said, he’ll be competing this spring for that job against rising junior TaQuon Marshall, as well as redshirt freshmen Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones. Then, there’s Oliver, who arrives this summer and will participate in fall camp. Although Oliver’s competitive nature is commendable and should pay dividends in the long run, there seems to be too much competition at this position for him to play in 2017. Expect that he’ll redshirt this fall and compete for playing time in 2018.
As for how he fits into the position group long-term, it’s going to be interesting to see. Oliver is the third quarterback to sign with Georgia Tech in the past two recruiting classes. While he does bring a really special ability to carry the ball, and potential to have excellent size, it’s impossible to project whether he’ll manage the starting role at some point or not given the personnel he’ll constantly be competing with. It’s worth noting, though, that Oliver is the type of player who needs to be on the field, even if not under center. At his size, he could easily have success as an A-Back or wide receiver at Georgia Tech, in the case that quarterback doesn’t work out.