It appears college football hasn’t seen the last of Ed Oliver.
A knee injury suffered last month has sidelined Oliver for four straight games, leading some to speculate that the All-American defensive tackle was sidelining himself in order to protect his draft stock. A heated sideline dustup with his head coach last week, for which Oliver later apologized, led some to opine that Oliver would indeed shut it down for good at the collegiate level.
Monday night, however, ESPN reported that Oliver is expected to play in Friday’s game against Memphis. The website cited a source close to the player as the basis for its report, although, officially, Oliver is day-to-day according to the football program.
The winner of that game will claim the AAC West crown and a spot opposite UCF in the conference championship game the following weekend.
Double-teamed most times — and even triple-teamed on occasion — Oliver was held sack-less through the first five games of this season. The last two in which he played, however, he was credited with three — two against East Carolina, one against Navy. It was in that latter game in which he was injured.
In March of this year, Oliver announced that the 2018 season would be his last at the collegiate level as he will leave the Cougars early and make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, where he is widely projected to be a Top Five selection at worst.
After a consensus Freshman All-American season that saw him land on numerous first-team All-American squads, Oliver was a consensus All-American in a 2017 season that saw him become the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy in the 70-year history of the award.
In his first two seasons with the Cougars, the 6-3, 290-pound Oliver had totaled 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. In addition to the three sacks, Oliver has 13.5 tackles for loss this season; his 1.9 tackles for loss were tied for third nationally prior to his injury.