Members of the media should take note. Do not report that Qadree Ollison is from Buffalo.
“That’s a lie. It’s not the truth,” Ollison said Wednesday night at Falls City Hall. “I’m from Niagara Falls. I represent Niagara Falls every day, everywhere I go.”
Ollison was flashing a wide smile after the Falls City Council took time out of their meeting to honor the former University of Pittsburgh and Canisius High School football stand-out. In addition to a Council proclamation, Ollison also received the key to the city from Mayor Paul Dyster.
“This is the city that raised me and grew me into the man I can be,” Ollison said. “I appreciate all of you.”
Ollison, 22, is preparing to head south in a few days to report to training camp with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He was the Falcon’s fifth round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Dyster told Ollison he was just the third student-athlete to received the key to the city. The others were former Niagara Falls High School, Syracuse University and NBA player Johnny Flynn and former NFHS, UB and Green Bay Packer running back James Starks.
“You know Starks won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie,” Dyster told Ollison with a grin. “No pressure.”
Starks’ brother, Sanquin, who serves as the Falls Youth Director, also offered praise for Ollison,
“I know the road he had to take to get here,” Starks said. “And that road was a tough one.”
Ollison is the son of Vicki Harris and Wayne Ollison. After cutting his teeth with the Cataract Little Loop Football Association, he starred at Canisius High School, where he was a the two-time Niagara Gazette Player of the Year and set career records for rushing yards (4,147) and total touchdowns (57).
Ollison’s Crusaders won back-to-back Monsignor Martin Athletic Association championships, including during his senior season, when he rushed for 1,465 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.
Ollison was heavily recruited going into college and picked the Pitt Panthers. As a freshman in 2015, he stepped in for injured star James Conner and rushed for 1,121 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns in 13 games. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
After two rough years, thanks to Conner’s play and injuries to the Panthers’ offense, Ollison returned to stardom as a senior. He ran for 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
He set a school record for longest play from scrimmage with a 97-yard run in a Nov. 10, 2018 win over Virginia Tech.
“I want to thank God for getting me here and thank my family..,” Ollison said. “This is an honor I never expected. It shows you put your faith in God and have good parents teaching me to be a good man.”
Reminded that the Falcons allowed one of their top running backs to leave the team in free agency — Tevin Coleman, now playing for the San Francisco 49ers — Ollison said he was just ready to compete for a spot in the NFL.
“There are no open roster slots,” he said. “You gotta earn a place.”