More Pac-12 Football Defections —  Exodus up to 8

Dan Raley

The Pac-12 player exodus kicked into high gear on Thursday with Oregon, Stanford and USC each losing prominent footballers because of the league's ongoing pandemic pause — bringing the conference total of lost headliners to eight.

Ducks senior cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., Trojans junior offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker and Cardinal senior offensive tackle Walker Little announced their intentions to skip any resumption of the conference season and begin preparations for the NFL draft.

It's been a particularly tough week for the Ducks, now down three honors candidates after junior offensive tackle Penei Sewell, the Outland Trophy winner, and senior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir opted out this week.

Earlier, Washington lost the services of junior outside linebacker Joe Tryon, USC had junior defensive lineman Jay Tufele leave and California senior cornerback Camryn Bynum chose NFL pursuits over an unknown college season.

The Pac-12 voted 12-0 last month to postpone its fall football season over COVID-10 concerns, delaying all athletic competition until next year. With that decision, the feeling around the league was several players wouldn't wait for a restart. 

So who leaves next?

The Huskies have logical opt-out candidates in senior cornerback Elijah Molden and senior defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, with the latter a Texan who has already graduated from the UW. Both have been named to preseason All-America listings.

Sewell is the biggest departure, coming off a sophomore season in which he was named first-team All-American at left tackle and accepted the Outland. He is considered the No. 2 player in the next draft behind Clemson junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence. 

While Oregon is said have talented cornerbacks that run deep, the Ducks suffered a blow by losing a pair of senior starters. Graham was a three-year regular, while Lenoir had drawn 27 starts. 

Stanford's Little was a starter as a true freshman in 2017 and named first-team All-Pac-12 as a sophomore before he was saddled with injuries last season. 

Vera-Tucker, who was going to make the switch from guard to tackle, was a second-team All-Pac-12 last season, same as Washington's Tryon. Cal's Bynum started 38 games.

USC's Tufele, the first to opt out, was a returning first-team All-Pac-12 selection. 

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Comments (4)
No. 1-1

Surprised that it's only 7 so far.