Ben Kuchipudi ‘25
Sunday, April 30th, was a huge day for Holy Cross sports. While no Holy Cross player heard their name called during the NFL Draft, three players’ dreams still came true. Cornerback John Smith was invited to the New York Jets minicamp, running back Peter Oliver received an invitation to the New York Giants minicamp, and linebacker Liam Anderson got the ultimate birthday gift, receiving a call from the Indianapolis Colts to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Smith, a fifth-year senior from Lake Worth, Florida, was a perennial member of the All-Patriot League team, recording 175 tackles, 33 pass breakups, 13 interceptions, six tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble during his time as a Crusader. His versatility in the secondary makes him a valuable weapon for any defense, as he played on the outside, in the slot, and at safety. He also spent time on special teams, which is important for young secondary players in the league. The New York Jets are deep at cornerback, but they are paper-thin at safety, and Smith has a real chance to make the roster as one.
Peter Oliver, a local product from Auburn, Massachusetts, was an integral part of Holy Cross’ sixth ranked offense, rushing for 920 yards and seven touchdowns on over six yards per carry in only ten games, forming a deadly quarterback-running back duo with Matthew Sluka. Like Smith, Oliver was a perennial member of the All-Patriot League, earning first team honors in 2021 and 2022 and second team honors in 2020. He doesn’t only excel on the field, but off the field as well, as he is a part of numerous clubs and has been selected for numerous academic awards, even winning the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award as a senior in 2021. He will compete for a depth role behind the oft-injured Saquon Barkley, and with most of New York’s depth in the backfield being inexperienced, Oliver can make an impact in minicamp right away. Oliver will also be reunited with his former offensive coordinator Chris Smith, who recently became an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants.
Liam Anderson, who grew up in New Jersey, didn’t just receive an invitation to mini camp; the Indianapolis Colts signed him to their active roster as an undrafted free agent. The standout linebacker was a team captain for the undefeated Crusaders, as well as a first team All-Patriot League member. He led the team with 86 tackles, 14 of them being for a loss, and also had three sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery. He was also recognized on the national level, earning a spot on the Stats Perform All-America Third Team and an invitation to the Hula Bowl. Like Oliver, he excelled off the field, as he was a two-time member of the Academic All-Patriot League team.
Anderson mentioned that the Colts were in contact with him for two years, and he talked to them during the Hula Bowl and Holy Cross’ Pro Day. He said he also reached out to former teammate Benton Whitley, who went through the same process as Anderson did as an undrafted free agent.
“He said it would be a crazy day,” Anderson said, “and he was not wrong. It was just a really long day. He told me to enjoy it because it only happens once, and that it doesn’t matter when you get drafted or if you get signed as long as you get there. It’s all about football now.”
All three players were very grateful for Holy Cross for putting them in the position to succeed. When he got the call from the Colts, Anderson said “Getting to the NFL has always been a lifelong dream since I was a kid. This moment in my life is just a culmination of a ton of hard work and having a great support system throughout my journey. I’m extremely grateful for my teammates, coaches, support staff and the community surrounding the Holy Cross football program for helping me get to where I am today.”
Oliver spoke for himself and both of his teammates praising the Holy Cross football program. “It’s so exciting,” Oliver said. “It’s a testament to all the support we have at Holy Cross with the coaching staff, with the strength and conditioning, the athletic trainers, the professors, and everybody that’s a part of it.” This was a huge weekend for Holy Cross athletics and the community as a whole, and we wish Liam, Peter, and John the best as they start their NFL journey.
Well written article! Great job Ben