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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Football

No sophomore slump: Oliver earns midseason recognition


sophomore

Sophomore defensive tackle Ed Oliver is following up his All-American campaign in 2016 with another great season. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Defensive tackle Ed Oliver is following up his stellar All-American campaign in 2016 with another season of hard hits, sacks and overall dominance for the Cougars.

A few weeks after being named a mid-season All-American, Oliver is again being recognized as a Bednarik Award Semifinalist of 2017, the NCAA announced on Monday. The award is presented annually to the top defensive player in the country. The young NFL hopeful has not allowed the dreaded sophomore slump to plague his second season in Houston’s defense.

Expectations for the 6-foot-3-inch, 290-pound sophomore could not have been higher after his first season, which saw Oliver post 66 total tackles, five sacks, 23 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

“He has such high expectations for himself,” said defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. “He sets a high standard for his teammates every day, and he is very inspiring with the way he works at it. No matter what, everyone on the field knows that Ed is going to go full speed at the snap of the ball.”

Star players don’t always live up to their expectations, but Oliver is a different story.

He has been all over the field with 49 tackles, which is third best on the team, and his 1.5 tackles for loss per game leads the nation. Oliver ranks sixth nationally among defensive lineman and has at least five tackles in six of eight games this season.

Oliver has anchored a Houston defense that has held three out of five of the top-scoring offenses in college football to below their scoring average. They recently held Southern Florida to its lowest first half scoring total, 7 points, since Week 2.

The second-year defensive tackle had two tackles for a loss on Saturday to give him 32 in his career, and he finished the game with seven total tackles.

Voting for the award will begin Tuesday and will close Nov. 19. Three finalists will be announced for the next phase in voting, said team spokesman David Bassity in a news release.

Oliver and the rest of the defense are set to face East Carolina for Homecoming this Saturday at TDECU Stadium to see if they can continue their hot streak from their upset victory over South Florida.

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