Position, years at Arizona: Running back, 1977-80
Honors, accomplishments at Arizona: Ranks fifth in career rushing yards with 3,096. … Led the Wildcats in rushing in each of the program’s first three seasons in the Pac-10, 1978-80.
Why he made our list: Hubert “Hubie” Oliver was all-state in Ohio but wasn’t highly recruited. The story is that he ended up at Arizona because his high school basketball coach knew somebody in the Arizona football office. Oliver was an instant hit for the Wildcats, setting the school freshman single-game rushing record with 186 yards on 29 carries against UTEP in 1977. That came a week after he gained 141 yards on the ground vs. New Mexico.
Oliver was a short, stocky, never-give-an-inch fullback, pairing in 1978 and 1979 with tailback Larry Heater for a thunder-and-lightning kind of combination. They teamed up to post 181 rushing yards in a 1979 win over Arizona State that gave coach Tony Mason his only winning season in three years at Arizona and propelled the Cats to the Fiesta Bowl vs. the Dan Marino-led Pitt Panthers.
Oliver’s most productive season was 1979, when he had a career-high 196-yard game against Colorado State, reached 1,021 yards for the season and earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors for the second time. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his career and rushed for 19 touchdowns, tied for the 10th most in UA history.
He also caught 44 passes at Arizona, a skill that served him well at the next level, but it is his tenacity, as a runner and blocker, that is most memorable about the player nicknamed “Rockman.” Rockman? As the Philadelphia Inquirer would later write:”Oliver, a 5-10 212-pounder, looks as if he has just been quarried from a marble pit.”