Over the course of the next six weeks we will be counting down the Top 12 stories of the 2011-12 year. Each Monday and Thursday we will reveal a new story, until we reach the top moment, which will be unveiled in mid July.
As a freshman in 2010, Branden Oliver was a seldom thought about running back in the Mid-American Conference who rushed for just 336 yards and didn't score a touchdown on the season. That all changed in the 2011, when the Miami, FL native rewrote the UB record books.
Oliver smashed UB's single-season records for rushing yards (1,395 yards, a total that ranked 14th in the nation), carries (306) and all-purpose yardage (1,760 yards) as a sophomore while being named first-team All-MAC. He also set a school record by going over 100 yards on eight occasions, while adding 13 touchdowns.
Oliver broke the record of former UB great James Starks who rushed for 1,333 yards in 2008. Starks also previously held the record for carries (272) and all-purpose yards (1,694).
Oliver enjoyed the best game of his career against Akron on November 11 when he ran for 235 yards, scored two touchdowns and added 38 yards receiving for a total of 273 all-purpose yards. The 235 yards rushing were the most by a Bull since moving to Division I-A in 1999, surpassing Starks' 231 yards vs. Toledo in 2007. His 273 yards of all-purpose offense were second to Drew Haddad in school history (276 vs. Cornell in 1998). Oliver's 235 rushing yards were second most in school history to only Alan Bell's 266 yards in 1991.
"Bo inspires us, it's exciting just when you call his number and he's got the ball in his hands," head coach Jeff Quinn said. "You just don't know what's going to happen, that's how exciting he is."
In February, Oliver, along with teammate Khalil Mack, were honored by the Touchdown Club of Columbus as two of the nation's top returning players.
Entering his junior season, Oliver ranks fifth in school history with 1,673 rushing yards. His eight 100-yard rushing games are five shy of the school record held by Anthony Swan (1994-97).