While most people only pay attention to those rookies that are drafted during the annual NFL Draft, many of today’s top NFL players have gone undrafted during their entry to the NFL.
Every year, these players are signed following the draft and receive a shot at making an NFL roster and living out their dream as a player in the NFL. Adding nine of these players this year, the Philadelphia Eagles have given themselves a solid rookie class to evaluate in the coming weeks.
One of these players is former Indiana linebacker Marcus Oliver. cover32 recently got the chance to sit down and talk with Oliver about both himself and his potential future with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Note: Since doing the interview, Oliver has been released by the Eagles.
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At Indiana you were a two-time captain and a solid linebacker. How do you think your time with the Hoosiers will help you as you pursue your career in the NFL?
Oliver: Being a two-time captain at Indiana allowed me to grow as a player, teammate and leader. I always thought leaders were loud and vocal, and I thought that was something I could never do. However, over time, I learned that being a good leader can come in many forms, and it encompasses a lot more than just leading by example.
Each person has a different way of being motivated and being a captain pushed me to learn how each guy ticked, and once I knew that, I knew what buttons to push in order to help them and myself reach our highest potential. My time at Indiana University definitely helped prepare me to face anything straight on with a mindset that others in my situation may not possess.
Entering the league as an undrafted free agent, does the fact that you went undrafted put an extra chip on your shoulder?
Oliver: Throughout my whole football career, I have faced an uphill battle of being one of the last people to hear or see their name. I first realized that was a blessing when I was in high school and I was overlooked by most of the other colleges and only had three solid offers. I decided to attend Indiana University
We played in bowl games in consecutive seasons, and I left college as the national leader in forced fumbles, holding the record at IU. I also was the first linebacker to achieve a 100-tackle season since 2005 with 112 tackles. I was able to be apart of beating Purdue, our school’s rival, four years in a row, which had not happened since 1947, and also beat Michigan State to obtain the Bucket and Spittoon for the first time since 2001.
I helped leave IU’s football program in a better place than when I first enrolled, and I’m proud of that. I intend to do many of the same things with the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s to put my head down, even when nobody’s looking or expecting me to be a name known in the NFL. I plan to bring it everyday with a positive attitude, and with the mindset that I’m going to help myself and the team reach our full potential. I’m confident in my ability to play football and I am excited for this opportunity I have been given by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Playing against some extremely tough Big 10 offenses week in and week out, do you think this experience will help you in your adjustment to the NFL game?
Oliver: Playing in the Big 10 is something I will forever be grateful for because that conference helped make me a better player. I was able to receive amazing coaching and play against top notch talent that pushed me to be great every single day. I was exposed to the intense preparation to get ready for a tough matchup every week. Being able to face adversity in a game and bounce back each play will be huge in the NFL because teams are going to make plays, everybody on the field is talented and you have to be able to adjust as the game goes on.
There are some very talented linebackers currently in Philadelphia, are you looking forward to playing with this group once you join up with the team?
Oliver: I look forward to being apart of a group, who are hungry for success and don’t want to be average. As linebackers, we all have this mentality and I am excited to contribute in anyway possible and to continue my higher level of football knowledge with them. I cannot wait to learn from them.
I am also excited for the opportunity to continue to represent our high schools, conference and city (Cincinnati), with Jordan Hicks. I had the same linebacker coach in high school that he had in high school, so I look forward to learning from him.
When did you receive call from the Eagles organization and what was your initial reaction when they offered you a chance to come play for the team?
Oliver: I received the call during the seventh round of the draft, and it was an exciting time for me as I was in the process of deciding which teams were genuinely interested, and which one fit me best. Once I got the call, it became a simple decision and made my job of deciding easier. I am blessed with this opportunity and I cannot wait to take my role and be the best I can be in my role, while still working everyday to meet my goals as a player.
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What is one area of your game that you believe will give you an advantage in potentially making the Eagles roster? What is one area that you could improve upon?
Oliver: I think my ability to pick up football is my strongest asset. I know with hard work, I can utilize my abilities to play in any role that they ask me to do. I think something I can improve on is just having quicker feet and hands, both of which I look forward to working on now that I have more time to focus on just football.
Was there any one player (past or present) that you modeled your game after?
Oliver: As a younger kid, I was very passionate about playing football and enjoyed receiving praise, but when someone would tell me that I was going to be the next “so and so”, I would say that, No, I am going to be Marcus Oliver. I enjoy watching other linebackers play, but I take pride in the way I play and I want to live and follow my own path.
Have any of the Philadelphia Eagles coaches or players reached out to you since you signed with the team?
Oliver: I received a few calls right after I made the decision to play for the Eagles, and with a lot going on with family, after each of those calls I became more and more excited.
For all of the Philadelphia Eagles fans reading this, let them know just who Marcus Oliver is and what they can expect from you during your time with the team.
Oliver: Marcus Oliver is going to give you everything that he has and whatever kind of player that you think he is, just wait to be confident about that decision, because I have a lot to prove to others. I’ve been playing football as early as I can remember, and I’m ready and excited to begin playing at the highest level.
I’m also excited for the opportunity to prove myself and I am I’m honored to be doing it as a Philadelphia Eagle. Also be ready for some takeaways! Takeaways are something I take pride in as a defender. I’ll be dependable and consistent in whatever role I’m asked to take on, as we as a team are working to become Super Bowl Champions.
What is the one thing that needs to happen for you to look back and call your time with the Eagles a success?
Oliver: One thing that has to happen at the end of the day for my time to be successful is for the Philadelphia Eagles to become Super Bowl Champions during my time with the organization, and I plan on doing whatever it takes to help make that happen.
A question I know many Eagles fans want to ask, will you be getting your first cheesesteak from Pat’s or Geno’s?
Oliver: Where do the Eagles’ fans think I should go?
– You can follow Marcus on Twitter @TeamMFO32