Oluwole Betiku Jr. will start his NFL career with the New York Giants.
The defensive end declared for the draft after one season with Illinois. Betiku spent his first three years at USC, but didn’t get much out of his time there. He entered the transfer portal spring of his junior year after he had offseason hip surgery.
Illinois was glad to take him and the Orange and Blue is where Betiku was able to shine. In the second game of the 2019 season, he had a total of 3.5 sacks against UConn, and was the nation’s leader in tackles for loss within his first six games with the Illini.
The nation’s leader in tackles for loss (10.5) and tied for the most sacks with 7, is Illinois grad transfer Oluwole Betiku Jr. (@Kingwolehoudini). He has been a monster this season, absolutely disruptive and quick off the ball. @WholeNineSports #WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/WOsT1dZj7N— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) September 25, 2019
The one concern that the Giants may have with Betiku is an injury-riddled past. Not only was his hip surgery a setback, but he also missed three games with Illinois because of a separate injury.
Last season’s injury happened during Illinois’ stunning win over Wisconsin, where Betiku earned a sack that helped give the Illini the leverage to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the conference history.
Betiku’s sole season in Champaign was full of eye-popping numbers.
- 36 tackles, 13.0 TFLs, 9.0 sacks, seven quarterback hurries on the season
- 11th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in sacks per game (0.90)
- 22nd in the nation and fifth in the Big Ten in TFLs per game (1.3)
- Tied for seventh in Illinois single-season history with 9.0 sacks
His Pro Day numbers make you question why he wasn’t invited to the Combine. According to Fanspeak.com, here’s where he would’ve ranked compared to other defensive lineman:
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.69 (third-best time)
- Vertical: 32” (10th, a tie)
- Broad: 9’7” (12th, a tie)
- Short-shuttle: 4.26 (first)
- 3-cone drill: 7.26 second (fourth)
Safe to say Betiku would have impressed scouts at the Combine.
As far as his future with Giants he’s likely to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. But he could be considered a defensive end by teams that also run head coach Lovie Smith’s 4-3 defense.
While some may have wondered why Betiku didn’t opt for another year with Illinois to boost his draft stock, of course the opportunity of him getting drafted was hard to pass up.
In an interview with the Herald & Review (Decatur) in early March, Betiku said he would use the money he makes in the NFL to travel back home to Nigeria for the first time in seven years.
Looks like Betiku will have to work his way up with the Giants. But if he was willing to bet on himself entering this draft, there’s no doubt he’ll do everything he can to be a star in the NFL.