One of the anchors of Indiana’s defense is ready for his next challenge.
Linebacker Marcus Oliver announced Friday that he will declare for the 2017 NFL Draft after another standout season for the Hoosiers.
“I’ve learned that playing college football is most importantly an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Oliver said. “I am ecstatic to continue this opportunity and declare myself eligible for the National Football League. I know that with the support of my Hoosier family I am destined to succeed. I am excited about this next step in my life and can’t wait to see what the future holds for myself and for my Indiana teammates.”
Oliver, an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection for the second consecutive season, finishes his college career having assisted on 13 takeaways with a school record 12 forced fumbles. After becoming the first IU player in six years to record 100 tackles during the 2015 season, Oliver finished his redshirt junior year with 96 stops.
He didn’t play in last month’s Foster Farms Bowl loss to Utah due to a nagging injury, IU coach Tom Allen said after the game. Oliver, who was 13th in the Big Ten with 8.0 tackles per game, surely would have surpassed the 100-tackle mark had he played in the finale.
In addition to his production, Indiana will miss Oliver’s leadership in the new year. Oliver was a team captain in 2015 and served as a game captain in all 12 regular season games in 2016.
When Allen arrived as IU’s defensive coordinator last winter, Oliver was one of the players he challenged most. Oliver responded with another strong season, finishing with 15.5 tackles for loss and a combined 22 tackles between his final two games against Michigan and Purdue.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to play for and be a part of the Indiana Hoosier family,” Oliver said in a statement. “The relationships, friendships and memories that were made over the last four years will forever be priceless, and the gift of being a part of this great community for the rest of my life will forever be a blessing and something I am thankful for. I would like to thank all of the faithful Hoosier fans that cheered us on throughout the years and (former coach Kevin) Wilson, coach Allen and (linebackers coach William) Inge for coaching me to be the best.”
Oliver may not be the only IU linebacker to take the leap to the NFL.
Junior Tegray Scales could also declare for the draft after an All-American season that saw him lead the Big Ten with 126 tackles. Oliver’s departure opens a door to more playing time for Chris Covington and Dameon Willis, who started for Oliver in last month’s bowl.