BOISE -- The Boise State football program has already felt the effects of former head coach Chris Petersen's departure to the University of Washington.
Rocky Mountain High School senior Khalil Oliver is regarded as one of the best prep safeties in the Northwest. He has scholarship offers from Oregon, Washington and Boise State, the last of which he was verbally committed to until Petersen decided to accept a new challenge on shores of Montlake in Seattle back in December.
"With Coach Pete leaving, it kind of opened up the door. I didn't know who the next coaching staff was going to be," Oliver said about the situation at Boise State. "I made the decision to open up my recruitment just in case, just to see what happens. It's kind of paid off."
Oliver since picked up the offers from the Huskies and Ducks. He said he plans to make an official visit to Washington on Jan. 17 and to Oregon on Jan. 24.
"I just want to make sure that whatever I go, it's the best fit," said Oliver.
"I don't want to go into an environment where it's hostile. I want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and where I want to be and stay at because I'm going to spent the next four or five years there," he explained. "What I'm kind of looking for on these trips, is when I spend time with some of the players, if I bond with them. If Washington and Oregon isn't the best fit, then I know that BSU is right there all along and where I wanted to go."
BRAINS AND BRAWN
However, football is not the only thing Oliver is focusing on.
"The first thing is, education-wise, what they can offer me as far as my degree and that is ultimately what's going to decided where I want to go," said Oliver, who wants to major in either biology or chemistry and then eventually go into pharmacology.
"It's not what school has the better team. It's what's gonna help me get my degree, the help they can give me as far, as if I need a tutor, if I need help, cause I'm taking some biology and chemistry classes that are gonna be pretty difficult, and I need to make sure my degree comes first, before football."
Oliver currently carries at 3.75 grade-point average at Rocky Mountain and lists chemistry as his favorite class.
BOISE STATE NOT OUT OF THE RUNNING
Although Oliver de-committed from Boise State recently, he said that he has not ruled them out in the recruiting process.
Because of the coaching change with the Broncos, Oliver wanted to gather more information.
A day or two after Petersen left, Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle called Oliver to let him know they would honor his scholarship, but Oliver still wanted a little more.
"I just wanted to hear from the coaches," Oliver said. "They were all in different places and had to make announcements that they were leaving before they could actually get in contact with me."
"The day before Coach Harsin actually came here, he gave me a call."
Oliver said that conversation was brief, since he was going to work and Harsin was about to board a plane to Boise.
Although Oliver said the new Boise State staff did not officially offer him a scholarship for two weeks, he explained how Harsin told him, "They wanted me and could see me playing on the blue."
DE-COMMITTING IS BEST FOR BOTH... FOR NOW
By de-committing, Oliver said both he and the university gain flexibility. For Oliver, it allows him to scout out other campuses. For Boise State, they can now offer Oliver's spot to another player if they choose to.
With that in mind, Oliver said there is still an offer on the table from the Broncos, adding he has remained in contact with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, secondary coach Julius Brown and linebackers coach Andy Avalos.
"They definitely are a very motivated group across the board. They have a goal set in mind and everyone seems to be following it," Oliver said. "That's a good thing to see."
OLIVER TALKS OPTIONS, STILL CLOSE WITH COACH PETE
During the recruiting dead period (Dec. 16-Jan. 15), coaches are only allowed to call recruits once a week. However, if a recruit places a call, then coaches are allowed to answer.
With that in mind, Oliver said he has talked with each school "two to three times" a week over the last few weeks.
Throughout the process though, there is one man he knows all too well: Chris Petersen.
"He's good. He loves it," Oliver said when asked how Petersen is doing at UW. "They're pretty motivated to get UW back to where it was."
"It seems like he's stayed true to what he was at BSU," Oliver added. "He wants the best players. He wants "OKGs" (which stands for "our kind of guys"). He wants the best players that are going to help him build a program."
Oliver said it did not take long before Petersen and the Huskies made contact with him and after Christmas they presented him with a scholarship offer.
"I had to wait for Coach Lake to actually get in and look at their numbers," Oliver said. "After he saw the numbers, he called me up and let me know that I received a scholarship."
As for Oregon, the Ducks were the last of the three to offer. Their reputation is hard to ignore though, especially when it comes to developing defensive backs.
Secondary coach John Neal has spent the last 10 seasons in Eugene, and in the last four years alone, the Ducks have seen four different defensive backs drafted into the NFL.
"Coach Neal has been at Oregon forever. He's a straight forward guy. He tells you everything how it is. He's not going to lie to you," Oliver said. "I like his honesty."
EITHER WAY, OLIVER HOPES THE BEST FOR BOISE STATE
With scheduled trips to both Washington and Oregon in the coming weeks, Oliver said he will not commit on site, adding he wants to discuss his options with his family before making his ultimate decision.
But regardless of where he ends up, he is already certain of one thing.
"If I don't decide with BSU, I want to see BSU be successful. I grew up here. I watched them play. I've watched them from when I was born until now, so I saw them struggle and then get to where they are now. Personally, I'd love to seem them be able to do it again."
With national signing day looming on Feb. 5, we will soon know whether or not Oliver wants to witness the turn around from a distance or up front and in person.