South Carolina’s Coleman Hutzler breaks down Deebo replacements, challenge to linebackers
Matt Oliveira, New Jersey raised and Maryland educated, wasn’t new to South Carolina when he officially became a Gamecock earlier this summer.
A snapper since eighth grade, Oliveira attended USC’s football camp while in high school.
“From what I remember, I was kind of in awe just being here,” Oliveira said. “It’s a great city, great environment. (I was) just taking everything in as an underclassman at that point. But now I’m here on the big stage, a little older, a little bit more developed and it’s obviously a little different now.”
Steve Spurrier was the Carolina head coach back then. Now, it’s Will Muschamp leading a program aiming for a fourth bowl in four seasons. Oliveira, after four years at Maryland, committed to USC on June 10.
“It’s like any deal with football, you’re put in position to compete,” Oliveira said. “And that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete for a job and compete and help the team win games. And that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do.”
Oliveira, a Watchung, New Jersey, native, was the center for his eighth grade team. He eventually evolved into a serious long snapper midway through his career at St. Peter’s Prep high school. He became a regular at Rubio Long Snapping Camps, a nationwide series that’s the oldest of its kind.
“I kind of learned the fundamentals through that practice,” Oliveira said. “And then kind of bringing it back to my high school and practicing it every single day.
“It’s not something you’re going to learn thinking about it or doing it. You really got to everyday practice your craft and get good at it.”
When St. Peter’s Prep won a New Jersey state championship in 2014, Oliveira — now a listed 6-foot-3, 208-pounder — started at tight end and defensive end. He went on to start 36 games as Maryland’s long snapper from 2016-18.
It’s likely he’ll be in the same role for his one season with the Gamecocks.
“Obviously, with spring, it was a struggle and unfortunately, we had the issues that we had,” USC special teams coach Coleman Hutzler said of long snapping. “But bringing Matt in here, coming from the system that he came from, he came in here and he’s very comfortable with what we do. Matt Bailey coming in behind him, that’s a great resource for him, as a freshman.
“They’re battling each other out and it’s good to have.”
One slight hiccup with Oliveira’s development is his summer class schedule. A three-time academic All-Big Ten honoree with the Terrapins, Oliveira is pursuing a master’s degree in USC’s Darla Moore School of Business.
“He really hasn’t complained too much about anything,” said Carolina placekicker Parker White. “For him right now, he’s getting his MBA, so he’s been in class a lot of days from 9 to 4, so that’s been tough to kind of manage, ‘Well, Matt, I really need you on field goal period.’ But at the same time, he has to go to class. So having to manage that … he’s in exams right now, so it’s been kind of stressful at the end of camp and during scrimmages when he’s got exams.
“But I think he’s been doing well with it.”
Oliveira is new to White after White had Ben Asbury as his long-snapper the last two seasons.
“Whenever Matt doesn’t have class,” White said, “we’re always hanging on in the ops building, playing ping-pong, video games, whatever it is. Just kind of talking, hanging out, it gets you more comfortable on the field.
“The more snaps I see — perfect spiral, perfect spiral — it just builds more of a trust over time. Makes me kind of more comfortable with how he’s snapping, how Joe’s (Charlton) holding.”