New York- Football fans, the time has come. Week one of the NFL regular season is upon us with a 14-game slate set to kickoff across the nation this Sunday September 11th. As we edge closer to game time, the story worth noting is New Orleans Saints rookie wide receiver Chris Olave. The 22-year-old standout is set to take the league by storm as he continues to raise the bar week after week within the Saints offensive regime.
“I know when I’m at my best, I can be one of the best in the league,” said Olave leading up to Sunday. “I’m confident in myself and what I can bring to the table.”
Olave, of Mexican descent from his fathers side, was born in San Ysidro, California, a San Diego district just north of the United States-Mexico border. He was the only Latino selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft as New Orleans picked the coveted Ohio State product 11th overall.
To go further, only seven Latinos were selected in this year’s NFL Draft (Malcolm Rodriguez; Detroit Lions, Tariq Castro-Fields; San Francisco 49ers, Nik Bonitto; Denver Broncos, Matt Corral; Carolina Panthers, Matt Araiza; Buffalo Bills, Isiah Pacheco; Kansas City Chiefs and Olave; New Orleans Saints).
In four seasons at Ohio State University, Olave established himself among Buckeyes legends with record-setting numbers. He finished his collegiate career totaling 175 receptions for 2,707 receiving yards over the course of 38 games. Olave snagged 35 touchdowns for his career, marking the most ever by a Buckeye and fourth in Big-10 Conference history.
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day praised Olaves’ skill set during the NFL Draft combine this past March. “He can stop and start and kind of really tighten up those deep balls and he’s got tremendous top end speed,” Day said. “He’s strong. He’s got really good ball skills, powerful hands. And, you know, when you look at what he did here over four years, some of the most clutch plays in the history of Ohio State football were made by Chris Olave in the biggest games he played.”
During the draft combine, a surplus of teams took interest in Olave as he completed the 40-yard dash at 4.39 seconds with a vertical jump topped out to 32 inches. Quite the speed and bounce to complement a Saints receiving unit led by former Pro-Bowlers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry at the helm. On draft night, several analysts compared Olaves stature to elite-named receivers such as Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, and Tyler Lockett. All known for their firing speed and success in tracking deep passes.
On another note, the rookie standout has become a trending name across the betting and fantasy football spectrums. The betting line for Olave to win the Offensive Rookie Player of the Year is currently slated at +1000 ($10 wins $100), according to several sports books. Furthermore, his over/under on regular season receiving touchdowns is set at 4.5 as the line on his receiving yards is 719.5.
Though most don’t account for the preseason, Olave proved the potential is there, totaling four receptions for 51 yards and one touchdown in three games. He has already integrated himself into becoming a productive go-to target for quarterback Jameis Winston.
“He can get in and out of breaks very well. Electric, and smart, man,” said Winston about Olave. “He’s a guy that’s always asking questions. He’s a guy that wants to know how you want it, and I really respect that.”
As the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Sunday afternoon to kick off their seasons, Olaves NFL career is set to take off. “Definitely going into the warmups and on the time ticking down to play the game, I feel like that’s when the butterflies will kick in,” a smiling Olave said.
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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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