Redshirt senior running back Qadree Ollison is without a doubt one of the biggest leaders on this year’s Pitt team.
By definition, a leader is someone in charge, a person who convinces other people to follow. A leader inspires confidence in other people and moves them to action.
Following Pitt’s 45-point loss to Penn State, he was one of the first people in the locker room to speak to the team and say that the outcome wouldn’t define this season.
That’s just an example of how Ollison has been a verbal leader but he’s also done so with his actions.
Following his rookie season, Ollison looked like he was going to be Pitt’s next great back.
In 2015, after stepping in for an injured James Conner, the Niagara Falls native punished defenders on his way to a 1,100-yard season and was named the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Ollison was headed for stardom, right? Well that’s not how things worked out.
Over his next two seasons, Ollison only rushed for a combined 525 yards on 123 carries. For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to duplicate the success he had in his freshman year and didn’t look like the same back.
While he didn’t exactly stand out during his sophomore and junior seasons, Ollison did impress in another way.
Unlike what seemingly happens on a yearly basis with Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, when he complains and causes a scene about his role and how many touches he’s receiving in a game, Ollison was never petulant about his situation. We’re in the age where many college players, if things aren’t going their way and playing time is scarce, end up transferring.
Considering his role on the team and the fact that Pitt received commitments from two four-star running backs in classes behind him, Ollison could’ve turned into a problem and team distraction or flat-out left.
To his credit, that never happened. Instead, Ollison kept his mouth shut, kept working and impressed Pat Narduzzi and the coaches enough to become Pitt’s starting running back.
“Number one, it starts with his attitude,” Narduzzi said after Pitt’s game on Saturday against Georgia Tech. “He’s got a great attitude. He’s become a leader. Our guys obviously chose him as the game captain, our captains did. He’s just taken over. He’s come a long way.”
This season, Ollison beat out last year’s leading rusher Darrin Hall, A.J. Davis, Todd Sibley and Mychale Salahuddin to earn the starting position, and though it’s still early, Ollison is looking like the player everyone thought he’d be in 2015. Through three games, he’s run for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries. That’s an average of 6.3 yards per carry.
Ollison’s contribution to the Pitt football program goes well beyond the playing field. He’s a big-picture guy that realizes and enjoys the impact that he can provide off the field.
I tell people all the time that it’s bigger than just football. Having an opportunity to affect a kids life is an amazing privilege. This is why I play the game. It’s bigger than football. Huge thank you to my buddy Jordan for this! #H2P pic.twitter.com/tzTKN6NmaG
— Qadree Ollison (@QOllison) September 16, 2018
Plenty of athletes get attention for the wrong reasons, but Ollison isn’t one of them. Pitt and the City of Pittsburgh are fortunate for the leader Ollison has become and that he’s a Pitt Panther.