Oregon cornerback Ifo-Ekpre Olomu recently announced he would return to school for his senior year. The news came on the heels of Sunday’s announcement that De’Anthony Thomas would skip out on his final season and declare for the NFL draft.
Ekpre-Olomu was projected as a first-round pick, ranked as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. In 2013, Ekpre-Olomu made 84 tackles with five for a loss, along with three interceptions and a forced fumble.
Ekpre-Olomu cited John Neal, Oregon’s secondary coach, as the primary reason behind staying with the Ducks.
“Having Coach Neal here I think is pretty much the main reason for me,” said Ekpre-Olomu. “If it was something like he’d be leaving, then it’d be different. But having him here is pretty much the main reason.”
To no surprise, Neal was overjoyed by the news that his star player would return.
“Of course he was happy. He feels like I made a good decision in the long run. He told me that I’m ready to do whatever I think I should do. That’s all I could ask for.”
Some thought that with the retirement of former defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, Ekpre-Olomu would pack his bags as well to the NFL. However, Ekpre-Olomu believes that Oregon will be just fine. Next man up, right?
“I think it’ll be a little different, but at the same time it might be for the best, you never know. Coach Aliotti was a great coach, but there are coaches here that are just as good that have learned a lot from him.”
While there was much speculation on whether Ekpre-Olomu would stay or go, the actual decision itself might have not been as difficult as we all thought.
“I felt that I was leaning towards staying for the most part through this entire process, but I was just thinking about where I would be in the next year. Playing in the NFL is going to be a great time in my life, but at the same time I felt like I could wait one more year before I get there.”
During this next year, Ekpre-Olomu believes that he can step up into a leadership role for the younger guys on the team, bringing his three years of experience to the table. Gather round for the knowledge and wisdom of Ifo.
“I think I can help out a lot. I’ve played three years here, so I’m going to be able to give them a lot, experience wise. I want the best for all the younger guys playing here, so I’m going to teach them everything I know before I leave.”
Ekpre-Olomu also credited his teammates for being so supportive throughout the process of his decision.
“They really want the best for you. They mess around and talk, but they really want what’s best for you. They say from the bottom of their heart that they’re going to be supporting whatever I do, and just keep in touch.”
As far as Oregon’s “disappointing” 11-2 season, Ekpre-Olomu believes that what doesn’t kill you in turn makes you stronger and has full confidence that the Ducks will return in 2014 ready to compete.
“It was a good season, but we’re not satisfied with going 11-2. You want to win every game that you play, and you have to learn from the mistakes when you lose. I think those two losses this year will only help us for next year, and we’re going to just move on from there.”