Every single season Tobias Oliver has been at Georgia Tech, he has made a sizeable impact at a different position, and I don’t expect this season to be any different with Oliver’s move to the defensive backfield.
Starting his freshman season, Oliver served as TaQuon Marshall’s primary back-up at quarterback following a season-ending injury to Lucas Johnson. That season saw a number of impressive performances by Oliver, including a 215-yard performance against Virginia Tech.
By the end of the season, there were folks calling for Oliver to hold the starting job over Marshall. If nothing else, most expected Oliver to be the starting quarterback the next season with Marshall graduating. And the Paul Johnson stepped away, and Geoff Collins came in, bringing a spread offense with him. Oliver got his chance at quarterback, mostly serving in a rushing role (he attempted 26 passes in four games), but when James Graham secured the job for the remainder of the season, Oliver shifted to wide receiver.
While he played at receiver, the majority of Oliver’s playing time came as the kick returner, with Juanyeh Thomas having a large cast on his arm for a good portion of the season, and it was there that Oliver got to make a solid impact, leading the team with 14 returns and averaging around 21 yards with a long of 52.
Coming into this season, Oliver has once again changed positions, moving to cornerback, and I think this could be his best move yet. We didn’t get a spring game, so I can’t say for sure how much he has caught on at cornerback, but fellow cornerback Tre Swilling had nothing but praise for him in this AJC article that Ken Sugiura wrote last month:
“I think his progress was almost ridiculous,” cornerback Tre Swilling told the AJC. “It was kind of almost like he’d been playing the position for a year or two before.”
The article goes on to talk about how his size benefits him at corner. Standing at 6-2, 180 pounds, Oliver fits the ideal mold that Geoff Collins likes in his defensive backs: big and physical.
I also think the stage is set well for Oliver to get a starting job this season. Tre Swilling has one corner spot locked down, but the other was shared by Zamari Walton and Michigan transfer Myles Sims last season. Neither played noticeably bad, but they didn’t play noticeably great either, meaning that there was definitely room for improvement. If nothing else, it will be a fun competition to watch continue into the fall.
Whether it’s at defensive back, kick returner, or another position, Tobias Oliver is a player that you cannot afford to keep off the field. And wherever he plays, he’s gonna be dang good.