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CU Defensive Back Isaiah Oliver Brings Football And Track Together

By Eric Christensen

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver is one of the team's top returning players on defense and a future NFL draft pick.

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Alamo Bowl - Oklahoma State v Colorado
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 29: Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) breaks up a touchdown pass intended for Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver James Washington (28) during the game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Colorado Buffaloes on December 29, 2016, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"There's no doubt to me he's an NFL-type guy. He's long, he's athletic, he's extremely bright. He's tough," said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre.

Mike MacIntyre
Mike MacIntyre (credit: CBS)

MacIntyre cringes, though, when he sees his gridiron star stumble in the hurdles or attempt to pole vault.

Isaiah Oliver
Isaiah Oliver (credit: CBS)

"I say 'Oh, my goodness, there goes our football team,'" MacIntyre jokes. "He came back over and I go 'Those poles don't break anymore, do they?' He said 'No, no, no, they don't break.' I said 'Okay, good."

MacIntyre can take comfort in the fact that Oliver doesn't just run track, he excels in the decathlon and its 10 events that make up track's most demanding discipline.

"Track is something I've been doing since I was 8. I put just as much effort and time and concentration into track as I do in football," said Oliver, when asked if track is just a hobby.

Isaiah Oliver
Isaiah Oliver (credit: CBS)

Lindsey Malone coaches Oliver and other decathletes at CU.

"Isaiah is a different animal," she said. "He's a beast of an athlete and a human being and he's very composed and very focused.

Isaiah Oliver
Isaiah Oliver (credit: CBS)

"If I had to pick a rare athlete that I've worked with in my whole career, or maybe that even I've seen, he's definitely at the top of the list."

One of the highlights of Oliver's track season happened in February. The football team was lifting weights in the weight room while Isaiah was running a track meet nearby. The team stopped lifting and came out to the track to cheer Oliver on as he broke a 21-year-old school record in the hurdles. Their reaction was unscripted and purely spontaneous.

Isaiah Oliver
Isaiah Oliver (credit: CBS)

"It gives me goosebumps, it honestly does," Malone said. "I come from big team background. My whole family did sports. When you see that, when everyone pulls together and you have that camaraderie, that's what sport is about."

"Bringing that kind of intensity aspect to the track and field world is pretty great. They obviously didn't know that you're not really supposed to celebrate when someone wins. They were just happy I won.

So for a day, Oliver brought football and track together.

Washington State v Colorado
BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive back Isaiah Oliver #26 of the Colorado Buffaloes defends a pass away from wide receiver Gabe Marks #9 of the Washington State Cougars during the third quarter at Folsom Field on November 19, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Washington State 38-24. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

He envisions a day when he does it again: when he plays in the NFL and he competes in the Olympics.

"That would be ultimate test, definitely," Oliver said. "Being able to balance NFL workouts and training camp and everything like that. It would be difficult but I know that I could find a way somehow to make it work if I get that opportunity."

Isaiah Oliver
Isaiah Oliver (credit: CBS)

But what if Oliver has to chose between track and football? Is he a football player who runs track or a track star who just happens to play football?

"He's an exceptional athlete and he can choose which season he's in," Malone said.

"He's football player that runs track and he'll play for long time," MacIntyre said.

"I've always thought of myself as a football player who runs track. Right now I work on them at the same level so I put the same work into them, but I couldn't imagine life without football," Oscar said.

And if Isaiah has his way, he won't have to imagine life without track either.

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