Five-star defensive end prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux chose Oregon over Alabama.

Justin Herbert chose his senior year with the Ducks over first-round riches in the NFL.

After consulting with his family, friends and the coaching staff, Troy Dye was determined to make his own decision.

The decorated junior linebacker, who has led the team in tackles the last three seasons, announced Thursday that he will play his senior season at Oregon instead of entering the NFL draft.

“I was by myself and it just popped in my head that I wanted to come back and stay,” Dye said during an impromptu news conference Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena. “It just felt right.”

Oregon will be returning the anchor of its defense.

Dye has racked up 313 tackles, including 34.5 for loss and 12.5 sacks, during his collegiate career. He has led the team in tackles 19 times in 36 games and started 33 consecutive games.

“Troy impacts our program in so many ways with his passion, leadership and love for the game,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said in a news release. “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.

“We can’t wait to see his accomplishments during his senior season, and we are thrilled to have him back as the leader of our defense.”

Dye’s announcement came a couple of weeks after Herbert, a projected top-10 pick who would have been considered the top quarterback prospect entering the NFL Scouting Combine, made his decision to return to Oregon in 2019 public.

The only starter the Ducks lose on offense is Dillon Mitchell, who will enter the draft after leading the Pac-12 and setting a school single-season record for receiving yards as a junior.

“Not many have the opportunity to play big-time college football. I have truly enjoyed every moment of playing in the best stadium and in front of the best fans in the nation,” Dye announced on social media. “I think I still have so much left to accomplish, and there is an opportunity to create something special in the year ahead. After long conversations with my family and friends, I have decided to return to Oregon for my senior season to capitalize on those opportunities and create unforgettable memories.”

After making 91 tackles as an outside linebacker in Brady Hoke’s 4-3 scheme as a true freshman in 2016, Dye had 107 tackles as a sophomore and 115 tackles as a junior playing inside linebacker for Jim Leavitt.

During the 2018 season, Dye became the first Oregon player to string together five consecutive 10-plus tackle games since Mark Kearns in 1987. He was the first player to record back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Michael Clay (2011-12).

Dye, who was listed at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds this season, said he plans to add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to his frame during the winter strength and conditioning program with an eye on starting his NFL career a year from now.

“It just came down to having this one last ride,” Dye said. “You don’t get to play college football for too many years. You get this opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.

“I just want to create some special moments.”

Leavitt will have to replace inside linebacker Kaulana Apelu, who finished second to Dye with 65 tackles, despite missing three games with a fractured leg. Dynamic defensive end Jalen Jelks, productive outside linebacker Justin Hollins and steady safety Ugo Amadi are also out of eligibility.

But the return of Dye will help Leavitt reload ahead of a season in which Oregon will be viewed as the preseason Pac-12 favorite.

The Ducks will welcome the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history, headlined by Thibodeaux, to a talented unit that includes established players such as nose tackle Jordon Scott, outside linebacker La’Mar Winston and cornerback Thomas Graham.

Oregon, which finished Cristobal’s first season 9-4 after the 7-6 win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl, will return seven starters on defense.

“Ultimately, I came back to create a special season with my guys,” said Dye, whose younger brother Travis will be a sophomore running back on the team.