• John Macon Gillespie

RtN: North Panola's Vonta Oliver

Some small sized people are frequently undermined just based upon what people see on the outside. Some people thought of the 5’9”, 165 pound North Panola 2018 athlete, Vonta Oliver, the same way. Oliver has silenced a few of those those critics when it comes to the football field with his speed and athleticism.

Head coach Carl Diffee was among those who knew that Oliver had the potential to shine of the football field. Diffee was relentless getting him to play as a result.

“Me, coming up from eighth grade, He saw something in me that I didn't see in myself,” Oliver told SES Mississippi. “When I first got to high school, I didn't want to do anything but go home everyday. He used to literally get off the bus and come find me just to get me to go to practice. He had one talk with me about my future of playing for North Panola High School. I didn't miss another practice until this day.”

Two years later, Diffee now sees Oliver as the best player that he has ever had under his wing. Oliver has become a true leader on the team. The North Panola community has had the team’s and including Oliver’s back for the whole journey so far in his high school career.

“My community is very supportive,” Oliver said. “Every year, more and more people come out and show their Cougar pride. Knowing that my community is behind me makes my go harder each game.”

Oliver plays a handful of positions for North Panola. He played quarterback, receiver, and tailback for the Cougars. He is also a dangerous weapon on special teams, returning kicks and punts.

“I don’t have a preference on the field,” Oliver said. “I’m willing to play any position because of my love for the sport. I play all positions with the same intensity rather I'm on offense, defense, or special teams. I give any of the positions my all.”

This past season, in Diffee’s first year as head coach, the Cougars went 10-3, their best season in over a decade. The team started off 7-0 before falling to Velma Jackson in the second round of the 3A playoffs.

“We knew what kind of team we had. We just had to work for it because we knew that nothing was going to be handed to us,” Oliver said. “One of the biggest challenges was building a family so we could become one strong team.

Oliver has decided that he will attend the Fortius Project on February 25th, the first combine of the 2017 series.

“I want to work on my route running mostly, but there’s always improvement in every little part of my game,” Oliver said.

Next season, Oliver will look to help his team get to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and win a gold ball for the first time in school history.

#JaredRedding #NorthPanola

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