Ducks

Dede Lenoir unsure if he'll declare for 2021 NFL Draft or return to Oregon

Ducks

Wait, come again?

Yes, you read that correctly. Dede Lenoir's decision to return for a fifth season of college football or prepare for the NFL hasn't been made yet. 

"I'm not sure yet," said the senior. "I feel like I had a great season but there's always some stuff you can learn and always help yourself so that's going to be a big decision for me."

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To entice players to play in the 2020 college football season, the NCAA has given a free year for players, who will not lose a year of eligibility regardless of snaps played this season. Therefore, even seniors could return such as Ducks safety Jordan Happle who plans to do so.

Now, it appears Lenoir could follow suit despite having earlier opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Heading into the season, Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Diamonds projected Lenoir as a starter and potential Pro Bowler at the next level. 

Then in six games as senior, Lenoir had 24 tackles (19 solo), one interception, one pass defended, and one forced fumble. He also only gave up one touchdown in which he tripped during coverage. He saw 24 targets, 11 receptions allowed, 121 yards, and a 57.8 passer rating when targeted. He was named to Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team. 

 

"It was actually big for me [to return]," explained Lenoir. "I wanted to step up my game in different aspects in just like leadership and just become a different player than I was last year."

The cornerback has signed up for a class during Oregon's winter term to finish his degree. 

"I'm registered for ASL class in the winter. I still have to finish just one class to get my degree." 

When Lenoir forwent the 2020 NFL Draft, he stated it was because regardless of winning the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl, Lenoir left the season with a sour taste in his mouth due to giving up a game-clinching touchdown against Arizona State which fueled his decision to return to Oregon.

"I felt like I ended off on a bad note last year," said the senior. 

Then, with the season in doubt, Lenoir opted out to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft before opting back in once the season was a go, a decision he does not regret. 

"Mostly with the COVID situation, I didn't know if we were going to have a season or not. 

"I definitely needed football. With me just sitting out, it was like 'What to do?' I'm just training every day, you know I kind of miss being with the team, and just miss the coaches and everything... I wanted to come back and play football." 

Lenoir and the No. 25 Oregon Ducks will take on No. 10 Iowa State in the 2021 Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, January 2nd at 1 p.m. PT.

Will it be the last time Lenoir wears an Oregon uniform though? That remains to be seen.