Will Oliver's high school lacrosse career ended more than a year ago, but he spent much of the past year paying a price for it while starting his new life in college football.
Both of Oliver's shoulders had torn labrums from years of abuse and they would occasionally slip out of socket during his freshman season as Colorado's place-kicker. He says it didn't hinder his performance. He made 11 of his 16 field goal attempts and 29 of 31 extra point tries, but he decided to have both shoulders surgically repaired in the offseason.
Oliver had his right shoulder repaired in December. He recovered in time to participate in the first half of spring ball and then opted to have his left shoulder done at that point in order to give himself enough time to heal and be ready for the season.
Oliver was 100 percent at the start of camp as he tries to keep his job in competition with junior Justin Castor.
Both kickers were able to work with former Buff Mason Crosby again this summer when Crosby came to town for a charity golf tournament. Oliver said the time he has spent with Crosby this year and last has been invaluable toward his development. Crosby has been with the Green Bay Packers since his career ended in Boulder six years ago.
"It's nice to get guidance from someone who has done it, because people can tell you all they want, but if they haven't done it, there is a certain degree of believability or not. Do you buy it or not?" Oliver said. "He's at the top. He's done everything he can. He's still doing it and he's still going strong. He's got incredible insight."
Oliver missed five kicks and two extra points as a freshman but still managed to give the impression he was bringing stability to the position after the place-kicking nightmares during much of the Dan Hawkins era.
Oliver's biggest problem making the transition to the college game was not getting enough height on his kicks quickly. He had four kicks blocked, though coaches say two of those blocks had more to do with missed blocking assignments than Oliver.
Still, Oliver says he could have saved those from being blocks if he had better height on his kicks. He spent the offseason working on that issue when he wasn't rehabilitating his shoulders. Oliver said he feels confident he has made significant improvement.
"I really focused on height and getting through the ball more because my distance occasionally wasn't the best," Oliver said. "They were pretty much comfortable with me 50 and in -- I had that 52 against Cal -- but they were not super confident about throwing me back there that far out. I'm hitting the ball much cleaner with better contact and getting it up much faster."
Oliver said if the season started today against Colorado State in Denver in perfect conditions, he is confident he could make field goals consistently from 57 yards or closer. Oliver made five of six attempts from 40 yards or more as a freshman.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleRingo.