Last season, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu surprised many around Eugene when he decided to return to the University of Oregon for his senior season. Many expected that fellow DB Terrance Mitchell would be the one to stick around while Ekpre-Olomu jumped to the league. Ekpre-Olomu has had a bit of a rough season this year, but that doesn’t stop the fans and the student section from showering the senior with adulation.
On the front wall of the student section, a dedicated group of students has created signs every week directed at Ekpre-Olomu, one of which declared his side of the field “Ifo Island.” Next to it, the sign shows quarterback jerseys of the players Ekpre-Olomu has intercepted. Currently, cutouts of Connor Cook and Brett Hundley adorn the second poster. Ifo says he is aware of the posters and is thankful to the fans for it.
“I’m definitely aware of it, it’s pretty cool. When you have the student section supporting you like that, it’s a big thing. Couldn’t ask for much more, you’re playing at one of the best stadiums in the country and you have a whole section supporting you, it’s great,” said Ekpre-Olomu.
As talented as Ekpre-Olomu may be, it is hard to ignore the influence that defensive backs coach John Neal has had on him. Neal has turned several Oregon players into members of NFL franchises and early reports show that #14 may just be the next one into the league.
In talking to coach Neal, he illuminated what sets Ifo apart as a defender and why he will be playing on Sundays next season.
“The great thing about Ifo is that he came in here with the formula that eventually lead people to being a superior player. He had that from the beginning and that’s how he was raised. With both his parents and the coaches he has had. He had a really good coaching staff before he came here,” said Neal.
Ifo went under a trial by fire in his first couple years at Oregon, but since then has shown himself to be a premier defender in the conference. For him, a lot of that comes from his overall awareness of the game and the team’s situation.
“I’m not as worried about myself now, when you’re a young guy you’re worried about yourself but once you get older you realize that you have to count on your team mates to win games. That’s been the biggest thing, all I’m worried about now is winning games,” said Ekpre-Olomu.
Despite how good he has already become, Neal doesn’t feel that Ekpre-Olomu has even brushed his full potential as a football player.
“No chance. He will reach his full potential as an athlete probably when he’s about 30. Then he’s still going to be really good. He’s one of those guys who will play for a long time because of his conditioning. He’ll be able to play any position he needs to play in the NFL,” said Neal.
Neal went on to say that Ekpre-Olomu is a first round talent and is what everybody wants in the NFL. Oregon fans have less than 10 games to vacation on Ifo Island before he prepares for the draft and waits to see when his name will be called by a NFL team. Enjoy him while he is here, because he is a one of a kind defensive back.
Ekpre-Olomu has everything the NFL wants
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