It’s been a great junior year for Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and he hasn’t even played a down yet.
He’s already signed NIL deals worth over $400,000, is viewed as the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft depending on who you ask, and has earned an abundance of accolades through various media outlets.
Thibodeaux was named the No. 3 player on ESPN’s top 100 players for the 2021 season, behind LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. Two young men who will also be in the 2022 draft pool, barring a setback.
“The potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Thibodeaux has demonstrated over the past two seasons why he arrived in Eugene as the top-ranked player in the 2019 class,” as ESPN’s staff put it. “He's as dynamic a pass rusher as there is in college football, and the stage is set for a massive 2021.”
On ESPN’s 2020 rankings, Thibodeaux was No. 6. He’s made a slight jump, but a jump nonetheless.
Added to his proverbial hat of feathers, is being named an AP preseason first-team All-American. He was the only Duck named to the AP’s All-American team and the only Pac-12 player on the first-team. Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd made the second-team as the only other Pac-12 member.
The distinction makes Thibodeaux the only player named to this year's team to make it in consecutive seasons, next to Stingley Jr.
In a stellar sophomore season, Thibodeaux finished with 38 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and three pass breakups in seven games.
Besides the media praise, Thibodeaux is on the watchlist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronco Nagurski Trophy and Lott IMPACT Award.
A lot of pre-season praise, and deservedly so. Now it’s on him to live up to the expectations, especially more so for NFL reasons than anything else.