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Thursday, December 6, 2012
Father's A&M ties won't sway Jake Oliver

By William Wilkerson

ESPN 300 wide receiver Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit) lives in a house divided by school loyalty but tightly woven by love and a family-first attitude.

He has been steadfastly committed to Texas since Feb. 15, choosing the Longhorns over a host of offers, which includes Texas A&M, his parents’ alma mater.

Jake Oliver
Texas commit Jake Oliver is taking his official visit to Austin this weekend and attending the Longhorns' football banquet.
Not only did his parents meet in College Station but his father, Gary Oliver, went from walk-on to three-year starter for the Aggies, helping them win two Southwest Conference championships. He was then a graduate assistant with A&M for two seasons before embarking on a coaching career that included stops at SMU and Sam Houston State and the Texas high school ranks.

Gary’s blood has a thick maroon tint to it, but that hasn’t stopped he or his wife from giving Jake their full support in going to Texas.

“If you have children and it comes down to what you like and what your child likes, it always ends up being what your child likes,” Gary said. “We support him 100 percent.”

Yes, that's even after the Aggies finished one of their most successful regular seasons in school history, which could grow to include a Heisman Trophy winner, and look to reap the rewards from it on the recruiting trail for years to come.

The way Gary looks at it, Texas A&M needs a much larger sample size to truly take over Texas as the premiere recruiting king in the Lone Star State.

“They are 10-2 and have done it for one season,” Gary said. “They finished fifth in the SEC. I’m not jumping up and down saying it was a great season for A&M. It’s a 10-win season, but it’s not winning a national championship.”

Gary has seen the glory days at Texas A&M. He was a graduate assistant under R.C. Slocum in 1992 when the Aggies started 12-0, including a 34-13 win at Texas, before losing to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

The Aggies backed those years up with consecutive 10-win seasons. He needs to see that type of consistency before he anoints any shift in the state’s recruiting landscape.

“I think everyone just needs to hold on and go from 10 wins to 12 wins, and not lose to Florida and LSU,” Gary said. “Don’t think we conquered the world in beating Alabama.

“Who else did we play that is ranked? Mississippi State is terrible, Ole Miss is terrible, Arkansas’ terrible and Auburn is terrible. Those schools are terrible. So we’ve played three good teams and beat one.

“As far as people saying he needs to change his commitment, he has been contacted by A&M to make sure he made the right decision. It’s been a really good year at A&M but you still have to slow down a bit and over the course of time that whole story will play out.”

Jake is of a similar mindset.

“It is what it is,” said Jake, who holds the Texas high school record for career receptions. “We can say ‘What if?’ and all of that stuff. But just look how one player can affect one team and a coaching staff. A&M was what, 6-6 last year? I am happy for A&M. I don’t have any hard feelings. My dad is an Aggie at heart but he supports me no matter what.”

Jake, the No. 213 player in the country and No. 30 receiver overall, grew up going to Longhorns home football games and saw Texas win a national championship with Vince Young and get to another in 2009 with Colt McCoy. He’s seen the glory days and feels like he can play a huge role in getting the Longhorns back to that point.

“Texas was in the national championship game four years ago,” he said. “All it takes is hard work, dedication and a belief in yourself to get back to where we were a few years ago. It makes me hungry when people talk about Texas being down. No, Texas can compete for a national championship every year. We just have to work at it.”

Oliver was recruited heavily by Texas A&M’s old staff, led by head coach Mike Sherman, whom Gary worked under as a graduate assistant. The new staff, led by Kevin Sumlin, hasn’t recruited him as much.

Even if the new regime would have inquired about Jake’s commitment to Texas, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. He’s sold on the Longhorns and his dad is perfectly fine with that.

“It was the right decision for him,” Gary said. “Will he be satisfied with 8-4? No. He has watched them win a national championship and play for another one. I love this 2013 class. It’s small. We love this class. He is not going to be satisfied with eight wins, I can assure you. It will be interesting to talk to you four years from now.”