Marcus Oliver was in the middle of the action Tuesday afternoon, but he’s eager to show he be a factor out on the edge the way he did during his days at Hamilton High School.
One of 29 players taking part in the Cincinnati Bengals local workout at Paul Brown Stadium, Oliver said he’s eager to show teams he is more than just a middle linebacker.
“I want to show them I’m more than a MIKE, that I can run, I can pass cover and play in all aspects of the game,” he said. “That’s huge. Being able to play more positions than one, you add more value to a team.”
Oliver was a WILL backer at Hamilton High and in his first three years at Indiana, but the Hoosiers didn’t have a MIKE backer last fall and Oliver stepped into that role to help the team. He ended up forcing five fumbles, which were the most in the Big Ten and tied for fourth in the county, while logging 96 tackles, including 15.5 for loss.
“WIL is my favorite position and my most comfortable position,” Oliver said. “That’s what I played when I was at Hamilton. That’s what I went to Indiana to play. After I made the switch to MIKE, that’s what I’ve been viewed us. I think people lost sight that I was a WILL.”
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Despite not receiving an invitation to the NFL Combine in February, Oliver said he thinks he will hear his name called during the draft, and there’s a party planned to celebrate it when it happens.
Oliver and HHS teammate Adam Pankey, an offensive tackle who played at West Virginia, are holding a joint party on April 29, the third day of the draft comprised of Rounds 4-7.
He said there were representatives from 30 of the 32 days at Indiana’s pro day, and that not attending the combine ended up working in his favor as it gave him more time to focus on that workout and recover from a knee injury that kept him out of IU’s bowl game.
“I was working on my running form in general and some of the other Combine-type drills and really just getting my knee back right from after the season,” he said. ” I think I did a great job of doing that. I feel like I can do anything as long as I work at it. People thought I was going to run a 4.8. That’s what I focused on. I ran a 4.57. When I set goals, I work really hard and won’t accept not reaching those goals.”
Middletown High School graduate Zach Edwards might a little more excited to watch the NBA Draft than the NFL Draft. In fact, he isn’t even planning on watching the NFL Draft.
“I’m going to his graduation,” Edwards said with a nod toward UC teammate Deyshawn Bond as they made their way out of the locker room at PBS. “And a couple of my other friends. They went to my graduation, so I’m going to theirs.”
Edwards, who played safety for the Bearcats, said he knows his most likely path to the NFL will be as an undrafted free agent.
“That’s fine with me,” he said. “Since I was in high school I always had to grind harder than everybody else, and that’s fine with me. So free agency, that’s fine. As long as I get my foot in the door, I believe I can accomplish something.”
The reason he’ll be excited to watch the NBA Draft is that his cousin Vince declared for it after his junior year at Purdue.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’ve been talking to him. It’s a very exciting process for the whole family.”
Unlike Edwards, Ohio State wide receiver is certain he’ll hear his named called during the draft.
“I plan on getting drafted,” he said. “I’ve got a few secrets, some things I’ve been hearing. Hopefully that happens. I’ve been playing football since I was probably about 5. For it to pay off and for me to go to the NFL and live out my childhood dream and a lot of childhood dreams for a lot people where I’m from, it’s going to be a blessing.”
He said his versatility will be an asset to whatever team takes a chance on him.
“I can return punts, play slot, a little bit of running back, kick returner,” he said. “I’ll play gunner if I have to.
“I tried to show (Bengals coaches) that I’m explosive and I can adapt,” he added. “Even though I haven’t seen any of their reps or know what they do on offense, for them to just tell me and I go out there and execute it right then. when a coach sees that, I think that’s a big plus.”