Signing a national letter of intent is often a big day for a recruit, but before signing with Colorado last month, Trustin Oliver had to make sure it was real.
“I’m like, ‘So, I’m going to be in Colorado? I’m going to be a Buff? I’m going to be a student athlete there?’” Oliver said. “They’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s official.’
“It’s so surreal to me and it’s a super blessing for me.”
Oliver, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound safety, was one of 17 players to sign NLIs with the Buffs last month and the only junior college transfer.
The former Legend High School star had to double check his status because he’s been down this road before. Out of high school, Oliver signed with CU as part of the 2019 class, but he didn’t qualify academically and went to junior college.
After spending the summer of 2019 at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, he transferred to Iowa Western Community College that fall.
Oliver redshirted in 2019 and then had this past season canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, so he hasn’t played in a game since 2018, but he comes to CU better prepared than he would have been two years ago.
“Any player like me, or even better than me, would be like, ‘Junior college … man, nobody is trying to do that route,’” he said. “Then, actually doing it and going through it, I’m like, ‘Yo, that really was like the best thing that could have happened to me.’”
Oliver has earned his associates degree and still has four seasons to play, but he arrived at CU this month with newfound confidence academically.
“Oh, way more confidence,” he said. “As long as you manage your time pretty well with your schooling, your football, and then also the social aspect of it … as long as you can handle those parts of it and make sure you have your priorities straight, you’ll be able to get it done.”
Supported by family and staff at IWCC, Oliver is in position to obtain a master’s degree at CU before his playing days are done.
“Nothing’s ever guaranteed, but you have a better chance of making it (to a Division I school) once you have those grades down,” he said. “Football has made me who I am, but at the end of the day, they can’t take away that education from me.”
There’s no question, however, that football has been a motivating factor for Oliver, who could help the Buffs at safety or Star – a safety/linebacker hybrid.
“With the guys they have there, some pretty exceptional guys that are in front of me, I’ll be happy to just tag along and be an asset to their squad,” he said. “I’ve told them, ‘As long as you teach me what to do and you teach me my assignment and my alignment, I’ll get it done.’”
CU safeties coach Brett Maxie said Oliver, “is a big, physical player at the point of attack,” and praised his tackling ability and speed.
Although Oliver hasn’t played a game in a while, IWCC did go through practices last fall in preparation for a season that was moved to this spring.
“It helped me a lot,” he said of staying in football shape. “Also coach Eric Finney, the DB coach at Iowa Western, he helped me a lot. Him and Maxie, they’ve got a pretty good connection and him knowing I need to work on these certain things … when I get to Colorado, I won’t be too unfamiliar with certain stuff that they do.”
Taking a detour through junior college wasn’t in Oliver’s plans two years ago, but he made the most of that time. Two years ago, he was excited to be a part of the CU program. Now that he’s finally here, he said it’s not so much excitement as it is a desire to make his hard work pay off.
“I just know that I put in so much work that I just need to get down,” he said. “I’m ready for it. I wouldn’t have gone through all that just to not be prepared for this moment.”