A whole lot of people who’d never heard of Branden Oliver before Thursday have heard of him now.
Oliver, an undrafted free agent from Buffalo, scored the San Diego Chargers’ first touchdown in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and might have had another touchdown if not for a horsecollar tackle. (Watch him talk about the touchdown at the 48-second mark in the video above.)
Here’s what you need to know about the up-and-coming Charger:
1. He Starred at the University at Buffalo
The 5-foot-8 Oliver was a three-year starter and finished his career as the Bulls’ all-time rushing leader with 4,049 yards.
In addition to the career rushing record, Oliver also holds the school record in 100-yard games with 20 and the single-season rushing record with 1,535 yards as a senior in 2013.
2.He’s Competing for a Spot on the Charters’ Roster After Signing as an Undrafted Free Agent
Oliver signed with San Diego May 21 after being undrafted out of Buffalo. He’s competing for a spot on the Bolts’ roster as a backup to Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead.
He certainly helped his cause Thursday, when he rushed for a game-high 64 yards and a 16-yard touchdown on just 7 carries.
Oliver told told the team’s website:
It felt great. It was a play right up the gut and I hit it right up the gut. The fullback made his and everybody made their block, honestly. I have got to give all the glory to the guys that were blocking for me, honestly. I didn’t have to do much, except stay vertical. The cornerback came at the last second, so it was like two yards before I hit the end zone. I kept running my feet and I got in the end zone.
Then again, he wasn’t the only Chagers back competing for a roster spot who impressed the San Diego coaching staff. Kerwynn Williams, a second-year player out of Utah State, scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, then followed it up by making the tackle on the ensuing kickoff.
3. Some Fans Are Comparing Him to Darren Sproles
Oliver’s speed, versatility and No. 43 jersey have nostalgic Chargers fans comparing him to ex-Charger Darren Sproles.
Undrafted FA Branden Oliver runs just like Darren Sproles. Fun to watch. Maybe jersey #43 will have some new magic this year. #GoBolts
— Derek Danziger (@derekdanziger) August 8, 2014
— Chris G. (@ChrisG1970) August 8, 2014
4. He’s a Devout Christian
Glory to GOD, thy will be done, O LORD!
— Branden Oliver (@BoBelieves) August 8, 2014
Open your heart to JESUS.
— Branden Oliver (@BoBelieves) July 31, 2014
Oliver’s Twitter feed is full of references to his Christian faith and re-tweets of accounts like @LovLikeJesus, @PrayinFaith and @KingJesusBible. His last tweet before Thursday night’s game read: “Glory to GOD, thy will be done, O LORD!”
5. He’s Ex-NFL Player Roscoe Parrish’s Cousin
Oliver is the cousin of former NFL wide receiver and kick returner Roscoe Parrish.
Parrish, a former University of Miami standout, was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft by the Buffalo Bills and played in Buffalo through the 2011 season.
His last year in the league was 2012, when he returned kicks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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