As the Oregon Ducks make their run to a Pac-12 title and possible spot in the College Football Playoff this postseason, there is plenty of hype surrounding the team, particularly on offense. The high-flying Ducks have plenty of weapons returning as they look to once again be among the nation’s best offenses in 2014. However, the team’s best player might just be on defense in senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu who should distinguish himself as the most complete corner in college football this season.
In coverage, there are few that are as good as Ekpre-Olomu who is as versatile a defender as you’ll find. He has the strength and physicality to abuse receivers at the line of scrimmage in bump and run with the athleticism to turn and run and play off in a zone scheme. His instincts on the ball are hard to beat as he is often able to diagnose a route and put himself in position to make a play. Over the last two years, he’s recorded seven interceptions and 22 pass breakups as he’s blanketed the elite receivers of the Pac-12.
But what separates Ekpre-Olomu from other elite cover corners is his aggressive and effective tackling in space. He’s a willing defender against the run, coming up and delivering punishing blows to ball carriers. Despite that aggressive style, however, Ekpre-Olomu is a reliably sure-tackler, rarely missing an open-field tackle. His lateral quickness and strong hands also help him with the shifty receivers he matches up against on bubble screens. He finished second on the team last year with 84 tackles and has 147 tackles and seven forced fumbles over the last two years.
The willingness and ability to make all the plays from his corner position sets Ifo Ekpre-Olomu apart in a class of talented cornerbacks. With his combination of speed, strength, and smarts, he is a complete player that controls one half of a football field for the Ducks defense. Will he be the difference-maker in taking Oregon all the way to the College Football Playoff in 2014?