PHILADELPHIA - University at Buffalo junior running back Branden Oliver's meteoric rise after a standout 2011 season continued on Monday, as the diminutive runner was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which recognizes the nation's top collegiate football player. He becomes the first player in Buffalo football history to be named to the award's watch list and joins Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois, 2011) and Bernard Pierce (Temple, 2010) as recent watch list honorees from the Mid-American Conference.
"I'm so proud of all the hard work put in by Bo and the players in our program," head coach Jeff Quinn said. "He is a man with a purpose. He trains with a purpose and he plays with a purpose. He is a tremendous team player."
Oliver, the only player from the MAC on this season's watch list, 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.
Each year the Maxwell Football Club presents the Maxwell Award for the College Player of the Year. This award is presented in honor of Robert W. (Tiny) Maxwell, legendary college player, official and sports columnist. The list will be trimmed down to semifinalists on Oct. 29, and the finalists will then be announced Nov. 19. The 76th Maxwell Award winner will be announced Dec. 6 at the ESPN College Football Awards Show.
In February, Oliver and 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).
Click here for the complete Maxwell Award Watch List.