Oliver announced via social media on Friday that he planned to sit out Houston’s bowl game in order to concentrate on his preparations for the 2019 NFL Draft.
“When I first set foot on campus, I knew one day I would be leaving the University of Houston football program so that I could realize a dream of playing at the next level,” Oliver wrote on his Twitter account. “Well today is that day. After serious consideration, I have decided to not play in the 2018 bowl game so that I can immediately begin training for the upcoming draft.
“Thanks to the University of Houston, the entire coaching staff and my teammates for their 100 percent support — it means a lot to me. To all the fans, thank you for your relentless support. Forever I will be a Coog! Go Coogs!”
Oliver, the Outland Trophy winner in 2017 as the nation’s top interior lineman, endured an injury-plagued junior season with the Cougars.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Oliver sat out four games due to a knee injury before returning to the lineup against Memphis on Nov. 23. However, he was knocked out of the contest after aggravating the knee injury in the first half.
The timetable for Oliver’s recovery was estimated at two to three weeks, allowing him time to be available for a bowl game, but there was speculation all along that Oliver would shut it down for fear of risking further injury.
Last March, Oliver announced that the 2018 season would be his last season of college football, saying he would make himself for the 2019 NFL Draft.
In his most recent mock draft published Nov. 11, Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com projected Oliver to be the third overall pick in the draft. Rang called Oliver “arguably been the most consistent difference-maker in college football regardless of position.”
It was an unsettling season for Oliver. In addition to the knee injury, he had a heated exchange with coach Major Applewhite on the sidelines the team’s last regular-season game against Tulane. Oliver later apologized for his actions.
Oliver did not have a sack in the first three games this season, and he had three in the last two games he played before suffering the injury.
In his first two seasons with the Cougars, Oliver had 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He has 13.5 tackles for loss and three sacks this year.