<strong>July 13, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2005-07-13-sw-spotlight-oline_x.htm?POE=SPOISVA">USA Today</a>
SAN DIEGO - Count Chargers guard Mike Goff among those not surprised by teammate Shane Olivea's rookie success after being selected No. 209 in the 2004 draft.
"It was expected because he's from Big Ten football," says Goff, an Iowa product. "No one said, 'You're a seventh-round pick and we'll ease you in.' "
Instead, the Chargers couldn't pry Olivea, an ex-Ohio State standout, from the starting right tackle spot. That's quite an accomplishment, considering Olivea was the third-string left guard after the first week of training camp.
"I thought, 'Damn, I'm not getting any reps in practice,' " Olivea says. "I had my head down a little. I thought, 'How can I get better doing this?' I just said: 'The hell with it. When I get in there I'm going to treat every play like it's fourth-and-1.' "
That attitude is part of what makes Olivea an up-and-comer on the offensive line. There's no doubting the 6-2, 312-pound Olivea's nasty streak. He also has the physical skills to back it up.
"When I talk to the defensive linemen, they say his punch is just solid," Chargers center Nick Hardwick says. "They say they can feel him, and that his whole body doesn't move. That he has this tightness down in his core and that he doesn't even move."
Olivea, 23, was on the move during the offseason, attending workouts and striving to build on a surprising rookie season. What he told Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer on draft day no longer sounds like a rookie boast.
"I said, 'Thank you for drafting me and I look forward to starting,' " Olivea says. "That was my whole mentality coming into the year. I just had the mind-set I wasn't going to settle being happy being on a team. I had never been like that my whole life. My goal was starting and improving every week, which I felt that I did."
This year, Olivea wants to dominate: "Last year I learned a lot about myself, and it was definitely a learning situation and I'm very grateful I was able to do what I did. But the biggest thing is to be more complete and be more dominant."
There were stretches of that last year. A team count shows Olivea allowing five sacks in 17 games and 450 pass attempts.
That is five too many for Olivea.
"It's a personal thing with me," Olivea says. "You can kick a guy's butt for 75 plays and you don't say nothing and you don't see offensive linemen jumping up and doing all that other stuff. A defensive lineman makes one play in 75 and thinks he's God's gift.
"It's definitely an ego thing. You never want to be called out on national TV and be circled for the wrong thing. It's definitely a pride thing, and it just makes you get after him on the next play. You don't want to get shown up."
"He's a hard-nosed, tough worker and just goes out there and bruises people," Goff says. "That's just good old Big Ten football."
It appears the Chargers have their right tackle for years to come.
"I think I definitely surprised some people as a seventh-round pick," Olivea says. "Basically what I did just doesn't happen. But I expected it."
And he expects the Chargers to improve on 2004, when they won the AFC West after finishing 4-12 the previous season. Olivea became an anchor for an offense that finished No. 10 in the NFL last season.
"We felt like we underachieved, as much as people think we overachieved," Olivea says. "We got stronger as the season went on, got more comfortable with each other."