CHAMPAIGN — Illinois was already going to have to rebuild the interior of its defensive line for the 2020 season with the graduation of Jamal Milan, Tymir Oliver and Kenyon Jackson. Turns out the Illini will be looking for another edge rusher, too.
Defensive end Oluwole Betiku Jr. announced his intention to forego his final season at Illinois and declare for the NFL draft via a Twitter post on Saturday morning.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the University of Illinois football program," Betiku's post read. "Although I only participated on the field for one season, I will always remember the special experiences I had here. I want to thank the coaches, fans and my football brothers that have helped me make my time in Champaign memorable.
"I'd like to announce that I will forego my senior season and declare for the NFL draft. Again, I'd like to thank everyone along the way that has helped me to this point. I look forward to the challenges ahead."
Betiku played in 10 games in the 2019 season after transferring to Illinois from Southern California along with wide receivers Josh Imatorbhebhe and Trevon Sidney. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end finished his single season with the Illini with 36 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, nine sacks and two fumble recoveries. Betiku had just one sack in Big Ten play as he missed time with an injury and another in Illinois' Redbox Bowl loss to Cal.
"We wish Oluwole nothing but the best as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said in a release. "Wole had a terrific impact on our football team, both on the field and in the locker room. We appreciate all he did during the time he was on the Illinois campus and look forward to watching his future."
Smith is also in the market for a new defensive line coach. Austin Clark, who served on Smith's coaching staff for two seasons, reportedly accepted a job as outside linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins on Friday.