When juniors Thomas Graham Jr., Deommodore Lenoir, Jordan Scott and Austin Faoliu all announced they would forgo the 2020 NFL Draft and return to Oregon for their senior seasons, none of them could have predicted what that season would look like.
No one could have.
The college football world was disrupted by a global pandemic and games are getting canceled left and right.
Graham Jr. and Lenoir both decided to opt-out of the season when there was no Pac-12 conference schedule on the horizon. But once those decisions were made and a season was voted on and approved, Lenoir opted back in.
Fast forward to today and despite the Ducks’ 3-2 record, the defense is still making a splash led by senior corner Dede Lenoir, senior defensive tackle Austin Faoliu and senior nose tackle Jordon Scott.
Those three have been selected to the 2021 East/West Shrine Bowl game. Although the game has been canceled due to coronavirus-related concerns, the recognition is still impressive.
The game had been scheduled for January 23, 2021, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Here’s how the game will work: “The student-athletes will participate in various virtual training/informational drills with current NFL coaches and members of the NFL Operations staff. Some 2021 all-stars will also participate in various virtual experiences with Shriners Hospitals for Children patients in recognition of the game’s nearly century-long commitment to supporting the health care system’s life-changing mission.
Despite the game being canceled, this is still a high achievement and one that will give these three Ducks extra attention ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
According to the website, “Thousands of East-West Shrine Bowl players have gone to the National Football League in nearly a century, including 78 who went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of today, 98 athletes who played in the most recent East-West Shrine Bowl, in January 2020, are currently on NFL rosters.”
One of those players was an Oregon Duck two years ago: outside linebacker Justin Hollins.
Hollins’ performance in the 2019 East/West Shrine Bowl earned him the Defensive MPV trophy before getting selected No. 156 overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Congrats to Dede, Jordon and Austin!