Just a couple months ago, Paul Oliver was preparing to compete for an SEC championship. Since then, life dealt the former Georgia Bulldog a few curves, but thanks to a little hard work, Oliver now has a chance to compete for a much bigger prize.
“I can’t be any more excited to be drafted by a legitimate Super Bowl contender,” Oliver said shortly after being selected by the Chargers in Thursday’s Supplemental Draft. “I’m going to get to play with some great veterans like Shawne Merriman and Quentin Jammer and those guys. It’s been a crazy couple of months for me, but I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out.”
After contemplating entering April’s NFL Draft, several factors led Oliver to return to Athens for a fifth college season.
“I was on track to graduate by December,” Oliver said. “I felt like the team was going to be so much better than last year. We were good last year, but this year’s team was going to be dynamite. If I went back and had a good year, my stock would have been up for next year’s draft. There were a lot of reasons.”
When the spring semester began, Oliver was forced to rethink his plans. He chose to enter the supplemental draft.
“I know I’m ready to play in the NFL,” Oliver said. “I played against a lot of great receivers and did well. I was hoping for a chance to play for a good team. Landing in a spot where I’ll get to compete for a Super Bowl next year, that’s like a dream come true.”
While Oliver turned in a solid season throughout his junior campaign, he seemingly catapulted into the national spotlight in December. In a late-season victory over Georgia Tech, Oliver limited wide receiver Calvin Johnson to just two catches for 13 yards. Johnson was selected second overall by the Detroit Lions in April’s draft.
“Considering how everybody had Calvin Johnson rated, I think I caught some eyes with how I played him,” Oliver said. “He’s a great player and he deserves all the praise. I played pretty well against a lot of people. Last year wasn’t the first time I played against him, but that game definitely helped.”
Had Oliver returned to Georgia and played his senior year, some draft experts believe he would have likely been a first-round pick next spring. The 6-0, 208-pounder finished his junior year ranked fifth on the team with 57 tackles and posted three interceptions and 12 passes defensed.
Oliver has spent the last two months running daily and training in the Georgia heat. He’ll continue to follow an intense routine until heading to San Diego for training camp in two weeks.
“I feel like I’m in pretty good shape, but I know camp is going to challenge me,” Oliver said. “But that’s cool. I love a challenge. I pride myself in playing hard whistle-to-whistle. I’m going to bring it every play. I’ve always had confidence in myself and I always will. Especially playing corner, you have to be confident. I’m just happy to get an opportunity like this. I promise I’m going to make the most of it.”