Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt's Ollison Carving out Role after a Difficult Spring Camp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt's Ollison Carving out Role after a Difficult Spring Camp

Article excerpt

When discussing where Qadree Ollison, one of the stars of his position group, was earlier this year, Pitt running backs coach Andre Powell didn't mince words.

"Coming off the season he had, he had a lousy spring," Powell said before later labeling Ollison's spring as 'awful'.

It's the kind of description that leaves little room for interpretation and certainly isn't one often associated with reigning ACC offensive rookies of the year. But that's where the Panthers sophomore found himself in March and April, a tantalizing talent with immense potential but a ceiling that was developing sooner and inching lower than many previously thought.

Ollison, however, eventually recovered. After that difficult and relatively brief spell, and even with the return of fellow running back James Conner, he enters the 2016 season with the same kind of expectations and hopes that are often attached to players with his resume.

"As a football player, we strive for perfection and settle for excellence," Ollison said. "You try to be perfect and try to do everything right. Of course, there's a little frustration. You think you know what you're supposed to do and know what you have to do and you mess it up. I had some ups and downs with that. But I took that and learned from it, and it has made me into a better player all around."

A three-star running back coming out of Canisius High School in Buffalo, Ollison was nothing short of a revelation last season. Occupying the starting role vacated by an injured Conner, he rushed for a team-high 1,158 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring 12 touchdowns, 11 on the ground.

The offseason, however, presented unforeseen challenges. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney departed for the same job at Georgia in early January and, with the arrival of Matt Canada, Ollison was tasked with learning the third offense in as many years (he redshirted in 2014 under head coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph). …

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