In the great words of William Shakespeare, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”
When looking into Oregon senior corner Deommodore Lenoir’s eyes, head coach Mario Cristobal sees something different this season.
On January 13, 2020, Lenoir along with fellow juniors Thomas Graham Jr., Jordan Scott and Austin Faoliu announced they would all return to Oregon for their senior seasons. The Ducks had just claimed a 2020 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin and were poised to return one of the best defenses in the nation.
Due to circumstances out of their control, Lenoir and Graham Jr. decided to opt-out of the season ahead in early September and begin preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. But that was so last month.
Now that the Pac-12 conference has issued daily COVID testing and a schedule for football in 2020, it’s all systems go. On October 5, Lenoir opted back in for another season in Eugene, Oregon.
A fresh mentality, a hunger to get better and a new number, Lenoir returns and adds some needed experience in a Ducks secondary that lost Graham Jr., Jevon Holland and Brady Breeze to the draft.
But there’s something different about Lenoir this season.
You can see it in his eyes.
“He was really good over the last three years and this guy’s comeback as a purpose-driven human being now,” said Cristobal after the Ducks held their first scrimmage of training camp in Autzen Stadium on Saturday. “And you can always tell right, the eyes they never lie and when you look in his eyes - when he’s at practice or when he’s attending meetings - this guy is on a mission. He’s on a mission to be great. He’s on a mission to be the best in the country, and by the way he’s started off in our camp, I believe in him.
We all believe in him. He’s a great football player and getting better and hungry to get better.
Lenoir enters the 2020 season with 27 consecutive starts at corner. He missed just three tackles in 137 opportunities in his first three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
In 2019, Lenoir recorded 47 tackles, 32 solo, eight pass deflections, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He limited opponents to a 54.1 completion percentage (40 completions) while being targeted a team-high 74 times, according to Pro Football Focus.
The secondary will need Lenoir to step up once again this time in 2020 and if what Cristobal said about him is true, then this purpose-driven human is ready to eat.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon wide receiver Keenan Howry].