Inside linebacker Troy Dye’s reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses will continue in 2019. The junior has elected to forgo the 2019 NFL draft and stay at Oregon for his final year of eligibility, according to his announcement on Twitter.
Sources told NBC Sports NW that Dye was leaning toward staying earlier this week. Dye was present in all team meetings this week and is signed up for classes in hopes to finish his degree this spring. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt also influenced Dye’s decision: he wanted to stay if Leavitt was retained, which appears to be the case.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dye will undoubtedly be the leader of Oregon’s 2019 defense. He’s led the team in tackles for three straight seasons, only the third Duck to do so since 1970.
Dye finished the 2018 season with 115 total tackles totaling 313 career tackles, etching himself in the UO history books as the 15th player in program history to reach 300.
Since the minute linebacker Troy Dye arrived in Eugene, Oregon, he’s disrupted backfields and locked down in coverage, surpassing 100 tackles as a freshman, sophomore and junior. The last UO linebacker to throw up similar statistics to Dye was Michael Clay (linebacker 2009-2012). Dye is the first Duck with 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons since Clay (2011-12).
Dye declined to comment on his decision after the Redbox Bowl or share the results of the evaluation he received from the NFL College Advisory Committee. His draft projection ranges from second round to undrafted. The Draft Network’s Top 150 Big Board projected Dye to be selected 67th overall.
Gaining traction in NFL draft circles, scouting reports often listing him as a “freak athlete” with elite agility and lateral quickness that has the ability to power through linemen and can get skinny to shoot multiple gaps.
However, concerns around Dye revolve around his thin, tall frame. Scouts call out his build and worry that he’ll get shoved around against NFL blockers. Draft Network named Dye as one of the top five draft eligible Pac-12 players that would benefit by playing another year at the college level and bulking up in the weight room.
Retaining Dye is huge for Oregon’s defense as the Ducks face the task of replacing their leading edge rushers in Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins. With Dye, Oregon returns seven full-time starters and junior Sampson Niu, who started three games in place of senior Kaulana Apelu during Apelu's injury.
“Troy impacts our program in so many ways with his passion, leadership and love for the game,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “He leads by example and is someone his teammates look up to. Troy is a difference-maker every snap that he is on the field, and his desire to be great helps elevate our culture to the next level. We can’t wait to see his accomplishments during his senior season, and we are thrilled to have him back as the leader of our defense.”
Mase Funa also joins the linebacker corps as the highest-rated linebacker to sign with the Ducks in program history. Funa’s strength and great instincts could make an impact right away for the Ducks.
Dye joins Oregon juniors Justin Herbert, Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux, and Jake Hanson, who also elected to return for 2019. Oregon lost just eight scholarship seniors and one draft-eligible junior in wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.
2019 in shaping up to be a special season for UO. It will be all eyes on the Ducks vs. Auburn on August 31 in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.