As a redshirt freshman, Khalil Oliver ranked 13th on Oregon’s defense with 27 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery.
The 2014 Rocky Mountain High graduate intends to have a bigger impact this fall.
“I redshirted and practiced for a year with the traveling squad in anticipation to pull my redshirt, but they didn’t end up having to,” Oliver said. “I practiced all my freshman year ready to play, and when you finally get out there, it’s 1,000 times faster than what you thought it was going to be.’’
Oliver played in all 13 games last season and earned a spot in the rotation toward the end of the season, highlighted by his seven-tackle performance in a 47-41 triple overtime loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2.
“Toward the end of the season, once I started playing a lot more, I got my stride down,” Oliver said.
The 6-foot-1, 209-pound Oliver is one of nine defensive backs returning in 2016 who recorded at least one tackle last season. There are 17 DBs on Oregon’s spring roster as Brady Hoke takes over as defensive coordinator, switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense.
“I came here to compete. My job is to come in here and go for that starting position, and I think I put myself in a good place this spring ball,” Oliver said. “Going forward into the fall, it’s just all about competing. Nobody is guaranteed their spots. That’s what they said at the beginning of spring ball with coach Hoke coming in, and it’s stayed consistent that way.
“People are rotating, losing their jobs, getting their jobs back.”
Oregon’s spring game is Saturday (noon MT, Pac-12 Network).
The Ducks finished 9-4 last season, a year after losing to Ohio State 42-20 in the national title game.
“I think a lot of people expect us to drop off or something like that, but I think we are going to come back ready to go and ready to play,” Oliver said. “I don’t think anybody’s looking back at last year or years previous. We’re looking ahead ready to go and being the best Oregon team we can be.”
CAPITAL INVITE BEGINS FRIDAY
Thirty-two tennis teams from Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah will participate in the 36th annual Capital Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s competition will be a round-robin format, which will determine pairings for Saturday’s championship and consolation brackets.
Matches will be played at 14 sites, but all championship matches will start at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Kelly.
Matches begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. Schedule, 6B
NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION HONORS FIVE VALLEY PLAYERS
Valentino Daltoso (Boise), Joey Tuccinardi (Rocky Mountain), Harris Irwin (Bishop Kelly), Tanner Tracht (Skyview) and Mason Farnsworth (Emmett) are five of the eight Idaho high school players who will be recognized at the 20th annual National Football Foundation Southern Idaho Chapter scholar awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Boise’s Red Lion Hotel.
Other high school honorees from Southern Idaho include: Twin Falls’ Kole Bailey (Boise State signee), Madison’s Connor Willis and Valley’s Garrett Mussman.
COACHING, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR CHANGES
▪ Meridian boys soccer coach Jason Vittrup resigned. The Warriors went 4-11-0 in Vittrup’s only season last fall after going 1-16-0 prior to his arrival.
▪ Skyview boys soccer coach Shawn Pelton resigned to focus on an insurance career, but he said he could return in the fall if the school can’t find another teacher to take over the program.
He led the Hawks to the 4A state tournament three times in five years, including the 2014 state championship.
▪ Weiser Athletic Director Sarah Bruce will step down at the end of the school year, after four years at the school, to focus on her family and health, she said.
MELBA SOFTBALL DEDICATES NEW FIELD
The Mustangs (12-5, 6-2 2A WIC) will hold a ceremony at noon May 7, when they host Horseshoe Bend. Senior Day follows at 12:30 p.m., with first pitch at 1 p.m.