By Jon Gargis
A former football player for Harrison High in Cobb County who went on to play for the University of Georgia and the San Diego Chargers has died at age 29.
Paul Oliver passed away Tuesday. Officer Mike Bowman with Cobb County Police said Oliver was found dead at a Marietta residence about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, with the cause of death ruled by the Cobb County medical examiner’s office as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Oliver played on three region championship teams from 2000 to 2002 at Harrison, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. His bio on UGA’s Athletics website highlights a number of accolades during his high-school career, including being named to the Parade Magazine All-America First-Team, USA Today All-USA Second-Team All-American, and a ranking as the no. 1 player in Georgia.
After being redshirted in 2003, Oliver played his first game in 2004 and would go on to play 38 games during his career with the Bulldogs. He started in 15 of them, including all 13 in 2006.
“It's heartbreaking for me personally, for our staff, for the Bulldog Nation I'm sure, and obviously for his family,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said in a news release Wednesday. "I was crushed this morning when I heard it, quite frankly. I really haven't been able to keep it off my mind to be honest with you. We've got to find a way to reach out and help in any way we can.
“If there's some way that the Bulldog Nation can rally around that family I hope everybody would be encouraged to do so."
Oliver made it to the pros by being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth-round of the 2007 Supplemental Draft. He didn't play in a game for the team until 2008, and over parts of four seasons he notched 144 tackles, four interceptions, 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one sack, according to a news release from the Chargers.
“Everyone in the Chargers family is sad today after hearing the news about Paul. He was part of our family for five years,” team officials said in a statement. “At just 29 years old, he still had a lifetime in front of him. Right now all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time.”
Funeral services for Oliver were not set as of Wednesday evening but are being handled by West Cobb Funeral Home and Crematory.