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Family molds Oliver in journey to FBS football

Dominic Oliver (#9) defends a pass against Bellarmine. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo
Dominic Oliver (#9) defends a pass against Bellarmine. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo

Valley Christian senior linebacker Dominic Oliver revels in everything his parents and supporting cast have done for him.

They are all Oliver can talk about, because, from a young age, Oliver was raised by two parents who showed him what it takes to be great in every aspect. How to be a man of high character. A man of faith. A successful student. A great athlete.

Look where Oliver is today: A Division I signee to San Diego State, where he will move in a few months to embark on the next chapter of his remarkable journey.

“My parents are the biggest inspiration in my life, and they have just parented me so well over the years just by being my biggest fans but also at times being my biggest critic, by putting me in the right situation and also sacrificing so much to put me where I’m at, the school that I’m at,” Oliver said. “They’ve just helped me in so many ways, and I’m eternally grateful for them.”

When Oliver’s football career started at 7 years old, his family and support system showed him the way to get here. But, most importantly, they believed in him.

His goal was always to go to the NFL, where he is now just a few years away from. He always wanted to play Division I football, which he is about to do this fall.

“I always felt like I could do that just because of the work I’ve put in and what my parents and all my supporting cast, and how they’ve supported,” Oliver said. “And they’re like, ‘If you stay on the path that you’re on, you can make it,’ so I’ve always had the belief that I could accomplish my dreams. That’s what I’ve been working towards.”

At Valley Christian, Oliver certainly put himself on a path to do just that behind his leadership, growth and production on the football field.

He recorded six tackles during the playoffs as a sophomore on varsity in 2018. As a junior, he registered 62 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in the Warriors’ ride to 11 wins and a spot in the Central Coast Section championship game.

Entering his senior season, Oliver pushed for more. He weighed in at 190 pounds last season, and he hit the weight room hard, as he said he felt he was more one dimensional as a pass rusher.

So, he added 40 pounds and added speed to his 40-yard dash time, and he gained more belief in himself. 

“The biggest thing was just playing with more confidence, being kind of like the guy on the team, playing with more confidence,” Oliver said. “Had a year of varsity under my belt, and I just felt like on the field I felt like I could make any play and that the team was relying on me, so I had to make those plays. That was the biggest thing.”

In an abbreviated four-game spring season, Oliver became an even greater fixture of Valley Christian’s defense.

Oliver led the team in tackles (36), tackles for loss (10.5) – including one game of four stops in the backfield against Mitty – and sacks (4).

Those 36 tackles ranked 14th in the Central Coast Section, while the 10.5 tackles for loss were No. 1 in the section, according to statistics available on MaxPreps.

“I think I did really well,” Oliver said. “My goal going into the season was just to lead the guys, just to leave a legacy going into the next year. But as far as stats and just how I felt like I competed I think I did really well. If we would have gotten longer, I feel like I could have potentially broken some records, but I’m just happy with what happened this year.”

Breaking some records is just what Oliver wants to do at San Diego State, where he will major in Journalism and continue pursuing his NFL dreams.

Since he first started speaking with San Diego State, he’s mentioned the sack record there, which is held by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila getting 34 in his career there.

And Oliver wants to get to around 235 pounds, improve his technique and just enjoy the last couple of months with his family.

“We all have big dreams,” Oliver said. “I want to break the sack record at San Diego State. That’s what I’ve talked to them about since they recruited me, and the goal is to just learn from the older guys but also to compete for a starting spot potentially. I’m just going to go there and learn from the guys and work hard and listen to what they have to say, just learn.”

It’s all a dream come true for Oliver, who understands the blessings in front of him while his football career is extended at least another four years.

“It’s so exciting. I feel like this is, obviously having a senior season was such a blessing and being around all my guys, but this is kind of like the first step that hasn’t been guaranteed. This is kind of the step where it kind of separates you from other people. I’m just really thankful for this opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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