For the Oliver Family, the reward was even greater — as Cade Oliver became the first college football signee in recent years for the Curry program, signing his letter of intent to play for the University of North Alabama Lions in Florence.
Oliver, the son of Curry football coach Shay Oliver, was a key in the Yellow Jacket offense in 2011 — as not only the team’s leading rusher, but also the leading receiver as well.
He rushed for 795 yards on 144 attempts (5.5 yards per carry) with 12 touchdowns while hauling in 26 passes for 496 yards (19.1 yards per catch) and 6 touchdowns — totaling nearly 1,300 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns.
His play was instrumental in securing a 5-5 regular season record for Curry — its best mark since 1996 — and allowed the Yellow Jackets to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Cade said he felt very privileged to be able to sign with the prestigious and tradition-rich North Alabama program. He thanked his teammates at Curry for their hard work, along with the Yellow Jackets coaching staff.
“It hurts me that all of the guys who were in here today couldn’t come with me and play alongside of me, but I’m going to give it 100 percent for them, our school and our community,” Cade said.
“I had an outstanding visit at UNA and with Coach Bobby Wallace. With Coach Wallace’s track record and the overall success of the program, I knew it was the place for me. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Wallace is entering his second tenure at UNA, where during his first stop from 1988-1997 he compiled a 82-36-1 record and won three Division II national championships.
“Playing for a national championship coach is not only a great honor, but also a great opportunity,” Cade said.
“It’s going to be a very exciting time for me and I know I will learn a lot.”
For the Oliver patriarch Shay — who enjoyed not only enjoyed watching his son, but also a member of his team sign to play at the collegiate level — the event was a great source of pride.
“It’s a great day for me, my wife Katie and my entire family — and it’s a very big day for Curry as a school and as a community,” Shay Oliver said.
“A football signing doesn’t happen too often for our program and I think Cade will be the first to tell you that he didn’t do it himself. It was a team effort, especially this year, as our kids came together and solidified as a group in front of our eyes. He’s just one of the lucky ones form across our country who get to go on and keep playing and I’m sure he’ll be playing for his friends, our school and for himself as he continues to play.”