Standout freshman takes home well-deserved honor
A member of the Cougars’ defense is taking home one of the nation’s most prestigious awards following a breakout first year.
The Touchdown Club of Columbus announced Tuesday that freshman defensive lineman Ed Oliver is the 2016 recipient of the Bill Willis Award. The honor is given to the nation’s top defensive lineman annually, dating back the last 62 years.
Oliver made history when he became the highest-ranked high school recruit to forgo attending a Power Five-member school for a Group of Five university.
The freshman burst onto the scene this season with 61 tackles, a mark that was high enough to lead all freshman at any position in the nation.
The Houston native also led all American Athletic Conference freshman with five sacks and topped all collegiate defensive linemen with nine pass breakups. Oliver finished second in the conference with a team-leading three forced fumbles.
Oliver’s stellar debut performance that included 19.5 tackles for a loss earned him a unanimous selection on the American Athletic Conference All-Conference team.
Oliver will accept the award Feb. 4, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio.