The Nike Oregon Project (NOP) announced via Twitter today that one of the hottest young athletes in the game will join their training group: Craig Engels.
The 23-year-old, formerly of Ole Miss, is one of the most promising middle-distance runners in the country, having placed fourth at the USATF Championships now two years in a row. Last weekend, he was fourth in the 1500m finals in Sacramento with a PB of 3:37.66, which gives him an outside shot at representing Team USA at worlds if he were to run the world standard of 3:36.00 as U.S. champion Robby Andrews does not yet have the standard.
Craig Engels reacts after placing fourth in the USATF 1500m final:
Last year, Engels pulled off one of the most memorable doubles of the U.S. Olympic Trials with a fourth-place run in the 800m and a fifth-place finish in the 1500m finals.
Engels' distinctive mustache and mullet look has garnered him social media fame over the past year. NOP's announcement tweet played up the joke with a photo that features Engels in an NOP singlet posing with Galen Rupp, the Rio Olympic marathon bronze medalist, dressed as him in a fake mustache and mullet get-up.
Welcome to the Oregon Project Craig Engels! pic.twitter.com/a3LvHnXOo1— Oregon Project (@OregonPJT) June 30, 2017
His future teammates at NOP include reigning 1500m Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz.
Engels debuted his Nike kit in the 1500m finals in Sacramento. His agent is Ray Flynn.
As a fifth-year senior for Ole Miss this year, he helped the Rebels win the Distance Medley Relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships. At the outdoor championships, he placed third in the 1500m, though he was the top American as champion Josh Kerr of New Mexico is Scottish and runner-up Justine Kiprotich of MSU is Kenyan.
View a list of where other collegiate athletes have turned pro here.