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PREP FOOTBALL 2000 / GARDEN GROVE LEAGUE

Olivos' Line Play Speaks Volumes

Soft-spoken tackle from Pacifica has transformed into one of the league's best. He is being recruited by Pac-10 schools.

September 01, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Last year, David Olivos was probably the most improved player in the Garden Grove League. This year, the mammoth Pacifica High offensive tackle might be the league's best and most soft-spoken player. Painfully shy, and a pain in the neck to defensive linemen, Olivos has become one of the most amazing projects of Coach Bill Craven's 25-year career.

Two years ago, Olivos was a slow, pudgy kid who barely knew what a football was. Today, the 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior who bench-presses 375 pounds is one of the most heavily recruited linemen in Southern California.

"I've never had a kid work as hard as he did," Craven said. "He's done it all with desire. He's over-achieved in everything, from football to the classroom."

Olivos, who carries a 3.2 grade-point average, spent the first year of his football career on Santa Ana's freshman team--lost and confused. He transferred to Pacifica when his family housing situation became unsettled.

Olivos said he was happy to leave Santa Ana. One day, when he was walking home from school, Olivos said he heard a gunshot.

"I had my head shaved because it was so hot," he said. "I think somebody thought I was in a gang because of my bald head, so they took a shot at me. I just ran."

As a sophomore, Olivos played on the Pacifica junior varsity. Craven said he wasn't too impressive.

"He didn't know where the ball was," Craven said. "He didn't know any of the terminology and he didn't have the fundamentals. And he only lifted 185 pounds."

Craven said Olivos' calm demeanor dictated that he play on the offensive line.

"He's not ornery enough to play defense," Craven said.

Olivos often felt out of place that first year.

"I didn't know anything about football, sometimes I think I still don't," he said. "It was pretty hard."

But Olivos continued to build his strength and improve his fundamentals. By his junior year, he was the Mariners' starting right tackle.

"I was just hoping to make the varsity and maybe win a starting spot," he said.

Olivos wound up making second team All-Garden Grove. This year, he's aiming for first team all-league and the Orange County all-star game.

Over the summer, he was invited to the UCLA football camp. He wasn't completely satisfied with his performance, but he proved to himself that he belonged with the elite high school players.

"I know I can play in the Pac-10," he said. "I just need to work on my speed and my pass blocking. But I've gotten stronger, faster and I know what it takes to play on a team."

Craven said Olivos will be a project for a Division I coach. But several coaches appear willing to take the time to develop his skills. He has already received letters from UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State and New Mexico.

Sometimes, Olivos still finds it hard to believe that he has a chance to play at the next level. He said he wouldn't have that chance without Craven's help.

"I couldn't believe that I'd get better if I worked hard," Olivos said. "But Coach Craven has always been there for me. He's been my rock."

Craven said he is expecting his right tackle to have a big senior year.

"I'm looking for our running backs to get positive yardage every time we run behind him," Craven said. "He's a great drive blocker."

Now if he could just get a little meaner and little louder.

"I'm like the silent assassin," Olivos said. "About the only time I get mad is when I get tired. And I'll do anything to protect my quarterback."

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