In 2019, I predict Oregon inside linebacker Troy Dye’s reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses will continue and the senior will take down the Oregon record for career tackles, set in 1971.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dye will undoubtedly be the leader of Oregon’s 2019 defense and he’s already etched his name in UO history books: leading the team in tackles for three straight seasons, only the third Duck to do so since 1970.
The “freak athlete” as NFL scouting reports often refer to Dye, finished the 2018 season with 115 total tackles totaling 313 in his collegiate career. He needs 121 tackles, six more than he had last season, to set the record.
The career record for tackles by a Duck was set by Tom Graham with 433 from 1969 to 1971, with an insane 206 tackles in 1969.
Dye, whose 313 tackles rank third among current FBS players, elected to return for his senior season after being projected as a mid-round 2019 NFL draft selection.
The linebacker has jumped up in 2020 NFL Draft projections to the first round. Rotoworld’s 2020 Mock Draft has the Los Angeles Rams selecting Dye at No. 32 overall. The Rams, who failed to address their linebacking need until the seventh round of the 2019 draft, have their eye on the speedy and versatile Dye.
Dye is in a position to become the first Duck to tally three straight 100 tackle seasons. Yes, he has more defensive talent around him this season (cough, Kayvon Thibodeaux, cough) but Dye’s elite agility and lateral quickness gives him the ability to power through linemen and can get skinny to shoot multiple gaps.
His slighter frame was Dye’s biggest weakness, but he intends to add muscle this offseason with the goal of playing next season around 235-240 pounds.
“Troy impacts our program in so many ways with his passion, leadership and love for the game,” Oregon 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.”
A stronger Dye could very well lead the Pac-12 Conference in tackles next season. In which case, he’d likely earn his first All-Pac-12 first team defensive honors.
On a personal level, Dye’s decision to stay for his senior season opened up the opportunity to make Oregon history, add to his resume and his growing NFL stock.
As far as the team goes, the Ducks are probable favorites in the north division and the conference for 2019. Entering year two under Cristobal with a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, an influx of young talent at receiver, eight returning starters on defense and a few extraordinary freshman who could make instant impacts… 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting season for Oregon football.