Ed Oliver had already confirmed that he will not be playing his final season of college football. Not so unexpectedly, Oliver has now confirmed that he won’t be playing in his final college football game either.
Over the weekend, Oliver responded “as far as I know right now” when asked if he would be playing in Houston’ bowl game, adding, “I want to play in every game.” Friday, that want officially crashed head-on into reality as Oliver, thought of as one of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, announced that he will not be playing for the Cougars in their bowl game.
The defensive lineman said he came to the decision “after serious consideration” and will now “immediately begin training for the upcoming draft.”
A knee injury suffered last month had 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 earlier this month, for which Oliver later apologized, led some to opine that Oliver would indeed shut it down for good at the collegiate level.
Oliver, though, played in last Saturday’s game, a loss to Memphis that knocked Houston out of the AAC championship game this weekend, although he aggravated the injury and was sidelined for the remainder of the matchup.
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 before he injured the knee, 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.