Written By Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
There are now 44 days remaining until the Indiana Hoosiers kick-off the 2016 season in Miami against the Florida International Golden Panthers. Join us each day for each part of our 100-day countdown to the opener! Junior Marcus Oliver is the number 44 for the Hoosiers.
Marcus Oliver (Redshirt Junior)
-Weight: 238 pounds
-Hometown: Hamilton, Ohio
The Hoosiers enter 2016 with a new defensive coordinator, a new defensive scheme, new starters all along the defensive line and a secondary that is still in the process of meshing and maturing. With all of the turnover and uncertainty heading into the fall, where does the defense turn to for some stability, leadership and guidance? Who will be that steadying-force Coach Allen can lean on when his squad needs some direction out on the field?
Simple, even with all this change, one thing has stayed the same, the playmakers at linebacker. And one player who stood out among the rest last fall, somewhat unexpectedly after coming off an injury-shortened 2014, was Marcus Oliver.
The team captain leads a very talented group of veteran linebackers this fall after he an outstanding 2015 campaign, when he became the first player under Coach Wilson to break the century mark in tackles. In fact, he was the first Hoosier to complete this feat since Matt Mayberry collected 108 tackles in 2009. In all, Oliver registered 112 tackles, with 6.5 for loss and one sack.
The “Takeaway Titan,” a nickname I coined for Oliver back in the spring, also forced four fumbles, recovered another and picked off two passes. He also broke up four passes. Throughout the course of the season he was selected as IU’s defensive player of the week six times and was a six-time game captain.
When the season came to a close his outstanding play earned him the distinction as IU’s Defensive Teammate of the Year and he was selected as an Honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team by the media.
Since new defensive coordinator Coach Allen arrived in Bloomington, his constant message has been playing aggressive and getting takeaways. After some grueling offseason conditioning under new strength and condition Coach Caton, Oliver was back to the usual on the gridiron during the team’s spring game.
During the team’s spring game Oliver stripped the ball from a Hoosier running back, returning it for six. If there were ever a player to embody what Coach Allen is looking for, I think Oliver has to come pretty darn close.
The rising junior has already begun to receive attention from national pundits, as he was selected by Phil Steele to be on his All-Big Ten Third Team. And in less than a week, he will be joining two other heady Hoosier veterans in Chicago for the Big Ten Media Days, another well-deserved honor.
The poised, no-nonsense Oliver will be playing for his third different defensive coordinator since joining Indiana in 2013, but don’t expect that to change anything. The Ohio native will continue to bring his hardhat and pail, day in and day out, leading a Hoosier defense that has plenty to prove in 2016.
Share any memories or recollections you have of Marcus Oliver as a player in the comments section (or on the message boards) and be sure to come back to Hoosier Huddle each day during our countdown!