File photo, Colorado defensive back ...
David Zalubowski, Associated Press file
In this Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver, right, defects a pass intended for Texas State wide receiver Elijah King in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boulder.

Isaiah Oliver won’t wait much longer to begin his professional football career.

The junior Colorado cornerback announced late Friday that he will forego his final season with the Buffaloes to declare for the 2018 NFL draft.

“I’ve been going back and forth with it over the last few weeks,” Oliver said in a news release.  “A lot went into the decision, but after having talks with my family, my dad and everybody, we felt like it was the best time after the season I had. We weren’t necessarily against coming back for another year — I loved playing for Colorado and I wouldn’t have minded another year, as well as another year of track — but we felt like where I am physically and mentally as a player, it’s time to take the next step.”

Oliver, a 6-foot-1 and 195-pound native of Goodyear, Ariz., is considered among the nation’s top defensive backs. He tallied two interceptions, 13 pass breakups and 27 tackles this fall through 10 games, despite missing action twice with a leg injury. In-season mock drafts from CBS Sports, USA Today, Pro Football Focus, Bleacher Report and ESPN project Oliver as a first-round selection.

Oliver is just the ninth player in program history to declare early for the NFL Draft since 1993. All previous eight Buffaloes were drafted; including defensive tackle Leonard Renfro (Philadelphia Eagles, first round), tailback Rashaan Salaam (Chicago Bears, first round) and wide receiver Paul Richardson (Seattle Seahawks).

“Isaiah is a model student athlete,” CU coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He did well academically, he did well socially and he did well on the football field and track. He’s a phenomenal person and a phenomenal athlete. We’re honored to have had him for three years and now he’s going on to the next chapter of his life. I’m honored and privileged and proud that I was able to coach him. He will represent the Buffaloes well at the next level — he always has.”

The 2018 NFL draft will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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