Oregon sophomore defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux has been named an Associated Press preseason first-team all-American. Thibodeaux enters his third season at Oregon with a hefty amount of preseason accolades and will look to build upon his impressive resume from his first two years.
Thibodeaux was the only Duck named to AP's all-American team and was the only Pac-12 player on the first team. Utah senior linebacker Devin Lloyd, who was a second-team selection, was the only other player in the conference named to either team.
Thibodeaux made the AP's preseason first team for the second consecutive season. He is one of only two players that can brag about that achievement — with LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. being the other.
This offseason, the former No. 1 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class was named a first-team all-American by media outlets such as Athlon Sports, Walter Camp, Pro Football Focus, Phil Steele, and Sporting News. Phil Steele also chose Thibodeaux as the preseason defensive player of the year and an All-Pac-12 First Team selection.
In addition, Thibodeaux has landed on a number of watch lists for some of the most prestigious awards in college football, including the Walter Camp Player of the Year (given to the top overall player in college football), the Chuck Bednarik Award (given to the top defensive player in the country), the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (given to the top defensive player in the country), and the Lott IMPACT Award (given to the top defensive player that makes the biggest impact on and off the field).
It will be tough to surmount Thibodeaux's success on the field in his first two seasons, as he has tallied 12.0 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 21 career games. He earned a spot on the AP All-American Third Team in 2020 after recording team highs in sacks (3.0) and tackles for loss (9.5) in seven games.
Thibodeaux also led the Ducks in sacks (9.0) and tackles for loss (14.0) in his freshman season, making him the first Duck to lead the team in sacks and tackles for loss in consecutive seasons since Kenny Rowe in 2009-10. He was also named the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
The Los Angeles native is most dominant when the lights are the brightest, logging a remarkable 18 quarterback pressures, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks in two Pac-12 title games. He took home the Pac-12 Championship Game MVP award last season after having his way with the USC offensive line all night.
With all the media attention and high expectations surrounding him ahead of his third season in Eugene, Thibodeaux's trophy shelf is sure to be filled up some more in 2021. He is widely projected to be a top pick in the 2022 NFL draft and could be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, an award that he has said he hopes to win this season.
Given his size, speed, and athleticism at his position, stats worthy of Heisman votes are not unreachable for Thibodeaux.
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