Mark today down as a huge moment in the history of Oregon Football who got a committment from 6'5'' 234lb defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the top rated high school player in the country. It is Oregon's highest rated commitment in program history, as the Ducks won the Thibodeaux lottery beating out Alabama, Florida and Florida State.
Outside of the obvious advantage of signing, you know, THE BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY, the question now is: does Thibodeaux represent the greatest 'icing on the cake' ever as the cap to an already stellar recruiting class? Or is he a huge domino that will have a ripple effect across the program?
There are two ways this domino can fall, and they aren't mutual exclusive:
1. Thibodeaux could induce a flip by another highly rated recruit in Oregon's favor. What defensive tackle or linebacker wouldn't want to play alongside him?
2. Thibodeaux could also be so good, with so much upside, that he could convince some of the current Ducks looking to the NFL to stick around for another season.
I truly believe Herbert is still undecided on if he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. The addition of a player like Thibodeaux, is one more “pro” to stay for his senior season.
It has also already made junior Troy Dye tweet that he has to re-evaluate his future.
Guess I have to re-evaluate now🧐🤷🏽♂️🤫— Troy Dye (@Tdye15dbTroy) December 15, 2018
If Herbert passes on the NFL draft for another year of development as a Duck, UO will enter next fall as the Pac-12 conference favorite and a legitimate playoff contender. Considering Herbert is a Eugene native that wants to accomplish big things as a Duck, the addition of the highest-ranked recruit in Oregon football history could be a factor in his decision. Keeping Dye on the defensive side along with the addition of Thibodeaux would make for formidable defense in 2019.
Make no mistake, Thibodeaux will compete for a starting job from day one and should be an immediate impact player. Oregon recruited him to play defensive end, which is his desired position. Listed at 6'5'', 234 pounds, he’s an elite pass rusher with scary speed and agility that creates major issues for offensive lines, even with double (or triple?) teams. Thibodeaux enters into an Oregon pass rushing unit that will lose two leaders in Justin Hollins and Jalen Jelks to graduation.
Add in the fact that Thibodeaux isn't just another football player, he's also a smart kid who should excel in the classroom. Evan Barnes, who covered high school football in the LA area had this to say about Thibodeaux:
Nation’s No. 1 recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux to Oregon. Surprised he didn’t go FSU but Oregon cleaned up getting kids from SoCal in this class.— Evan Barnes〽️ (@evan_b) December 15, 2018
I covered KT’s junior year and he’s one of the best D-ends I’ve seen at the HS level. Terror on the field, intelligent in the classroom.
Cristobal came to Oregon in 2016 with a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. While at Alabama, he was instrumental in helping the Crimson Tide haul in top prospects year after year. Fast forward to 2018, Cristobal is Oregon’s head coach and leading UO to its best recruiting class in school history. It’s Cristobal’s honest and welcoming approach that makes recruits, and their mom’s, trust him.
“Mario Cristobal is a great guy, my mom loves him, and he’s a God-fearing man,” Thibodeaux said during his selection. “He can take my game to the next level.”
The five-star recruit also commented that Cristobal talked to him about more than just football, expressing an enthusiasm in his other interests, which include journalism. Oregon’s school of journalism was another draw for Thibodeaux.
So now Duck fans will need to sit back and wait to see if Thibodeaux's commitment has some fringe benefits to the Oregon Ducks 2019 roster.