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San Diego Chargers sign Buffalo Running Back Branden Oliver

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Note -  File this under rumor: I've heard it two different places and have sent an email to BO's agent

Update (2:52 est) - UB Athletics just tweeted about Oliver's two year deal

The Indianapolis Colts wanted to get a good look at Branden Oliver but were not willing to commit to a signed contract. The San Diego Chargers today reportedly stole Oliver away by offering the Buffalo Bulls record holder a two year deal. With the deal Oliver joins James Starks as Buffalo Bulls running backs who are currently under contract.

It's fitting since Oliver broke many of James Starks career records this past season.

Branden Oliver, known simply as "Bo", is a 5 foot 8 inch, 208 pound block of solid muscle who emerged in from a field of young backs in a moribund 2010 season. While his freshman numbers were not mindblowing he earned the respect of his coaches and was given the starting role in 2011.

Oliver erupted during his sophomore season into a national force. By the time the year was over it was obvious that the Florida native was one of the best running backs in the Mid American Conference and all of Division I. Oliver rushed for 1,395 yards on 306 carries, breaking UB’s single-season rushing record, held by James Starks, on the final day of the season.

2013 310 1535 5 60 15 25 173 6.9 14 1
2012 148 821 5.5 36 5 7 25 3.6 10 0
2011 306 1395 4.6 68 13 38 365 9.6 38 0
2010 102 298 2.9 19 0 5 92 18.4 34 0
Totals 866 4049 4.68 68 33 75 655 8.73 38 1

On his 2011 numbers Oliver was talked about for the 2012 Maxwell, Doak Walker, and Walter Camp awards, landing on all three preseason watch lists. He was among the top five rushers in the NCAA through two games but during the first half of the UB Kent game he was felled by injury which cut short his Junior season. Before the injury Oliver had ran for 111 against Georgia to open the season and put up a total of 426 rushing yards through the year's first ten quarters.

This past season Oliver once again was named to the Doak Walker watchlist, on his way to breaking his own season high rushing record and ending his year with 310 carries for 1,535 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had 173 yards receiving, one reception for a touchdown, totaling 1708 all-purpose yards.

Oliver is a solid downhill runner who also has the ability to make one or two solid cuts before he really hits the gas. BO specializes in gaining yards after the initial contact. He is not by nature a shifty runner or a burner but he has demonstrated an ability to stop and start on a dime.

Mentally Oliver has developed to the point where he lets the play develop and lets the holes open up in front of him. Once the hole opens he gets downhill in a hurry, making one cut, planting his foot and exploding up field.

Currently Oliver is rated as the 45th best running back in this years NFL draft which puts him in undrafted free agent neighborhood. The main concern is his size and durability. He is about three inches shorter than the average NFL running back and has missed a bit of time over the past two seasons due to physical issues.

But there has been a trend of shorter running backs in recent years. Ravens RB Ray Rice (5’8"), 49ers RBs Frank Gore (5’9"), and Jacquizz Rodgers (5’6") among others show that a compact back who knows who to use his size can succeed on an NFL field.