Kayvon Thibodeaux can lead Oregon to CFB Playoff as best sophomore in the country

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon Ducks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon Ducks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Kayvon Thibodeaux can become a household name around college football.

In the college football world, it’s always smart to get out ahead of the curve if you can.

Though you only have a few months left, there is still time to hop on the Kayvon Thibodeaux bandwagon train, as the Oregon Ducks defensive end is about to become an undeniable superstar in major college football. Despite only being a second-year player, this sensational sophomore is talented enough to helped guide Oregon back into the College Football Playoff in 2020.

During Big Noon Kickoff‘s webcast on Wednesday night, 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart heaped a ton of praise on his favorite football conference’s standout defensive playmaker. The former USC Trojans superstar quarterback believes Thibodeaux will be the one player in the country who will become a household name by the end of the 2020 NCAA season.

“I think it’s going to be Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon,” said Leinart. “Remember, he was the No. 1 player in America a couple of years ago, commits to Oregon as a defensive end and really had a great year last year as true freshman.”

“You know, there are some games where you’re not calling his name as much, but he finished the season with nine sacks. He made his presence felt in the Rose Bowl last year against Wisconsin. And I just remember all of us here with Chase Young and the season he had last year and just the hype around him and his game-changing ability.”

“I think Thibodeaux just has the chance to be that type of player and he’s only going to be a sophomore. This is a kid that’s got a couple of years left at Oregon. Oregon, to me, is going to be in the conversation as a national title contender, so they’re going to win a lot of games.”

“They have some potentially huge games, national spotlight games where Thibodeaux can really make a name for himself. So keep an eye on him. This kid is a phenomenal, phenomenal game-changing type player off the edge for Oregon.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux can be to Oregon what Chase Young was to Ohio State.

As Leinart said, Thibodeaux was a top recruit coming out of high school. 247Sports had the Thousand Oaks native as the No. 2 player in the country, the No. 2 defensive end in the nation and the No. 1 player from California in the 2019 high school graduating class with a 0.9987 overall grade. He was a top-50 player all time in their system and the greatest signing in Oregon history.

At 6-foot-5 and 242 pounds, Thibodeaux wreaked havoc on the Pac-12 during his first season of college ball. He 35 combined tackles, 14.0 of them went for a loss of yardage and nine sacks in 13 games for the Ducks. This helped him take home Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, the first of surely many awards he’ll have on his Oregon resume before he does decide to turn pro.

As for if Oregon is good enough to make the playoff, the Ducks only came up a game short of doing so only a season ago. While their offense is not setting the world on fire, we’ve seen how well Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal has done as a recruiter since being named head coach in December 2017. Thibodeaux is his crown jewel as a Power 5 college football recruiter.

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While Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have the look of playoff-caliber teams, the fourth spot is totally up for grabs. If Oregon wins the Pac-12 with one or fewer losses, the Ducks have just as good of a chance of getting in as a one-loss Big 12 champion or a one-loss at-large team from the Big Ten or SEC. The Ducks are emphatically a top-eight program in college football right now.

Even though Thibodeaux doesn’t play quarterback, he can be every bit as impactful of a player as Young was for the Buckeyes last season. However, Thibodeaux will need new Ducks starting quarterback Tyler Shough to more than hold his own. He has big shoes to fill, as longtime starter Justin Herbert went No. 6 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Regardless of how Oregon does, we’ll all learn how to spell Thibodeaux this season.

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