The Houston Cougars football team is losing a pair of players — one immediately and another next year.
Junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver announced Monday he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, clearing up any doubt about his future intentions.
"This was a dream of mine coming in," said Oliver, who spent last week in Indianapolis for the NCAA Elite Student-Athlete Symposium. "I knew I was going on a business trip, and whether my business trip was three years or four years it just depended on how early I got on the field and how effective I was."
— #HTownTakeover (@UHCougarFB) March 6, 2018
Oliver's declaration comes six months before Houston opens the 2018 season against cross-town rival Rice.
The school also confirmed Monday that junior running back Duke Catalon had left the team for personal reasons. Catalon rushed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns over two seasons with 637 yards and eight scores coming last year.
The 6-3, 291-pound Oliver is already projected as a high first-round pick next year after he became the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy as the best college football interior lineman in 2017. The Houston native tallied 73 tackles, 16 1/2 for loss, with 5 1/2 sacks and closed the regular season with a career-high 14 tackles, including 3 1/2 tackles for loss and two sacks in a 24-14 win over Navy. He set the Bronco Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player as a personal goal for 2018.
"He's a homegrown talent," Cougars coach Major Applewhite said of Oliver. "He's just a testimony that if you make that decision, you can come here and be an all-conference player, you can be an All-American, you can be a national award winner, you can be a first-round draft pick, you can do all those things. It kind of puts a hole in the whole you have to go to a Power 5 or certain school to get all those things done. It kind of ruins that theory."