Four UO defensive players to make joint announcement on 2020 plans
The defense certainly did its part to help Justin Herbert leave Oregon with a Pac-12 championship.
Under first-year coordinator Andy Avalos, the Ducks finished ninth in points allowed (16.5 per game) and 22nd in yards allowed (329.1 per game) during a 12-2 campaign capped with the 28-27 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon will find out a lot about what the 2020 starting lineup on defense will look like when four draft-eligible players — nose tackle Jordon Scott, defensive end Austin Faoliu and cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir — announce their intentions during joint press conference at 11 a.m. Monday at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
The most likely to declare for the NFL draft is Scott, who has already earned a degree in ethnic studies with a minor in journalism at UO and checked off just about every item on his college bucket list.
During the 2019 season, the 6-foot-1, 322-pound Scott had 32 tackles while clogging up the middle of the line of scrimmage to free up space for linebackers like Troy Dye (84 tackles) to make plays.
“It starts at the middle, and he's the heart and soul of that,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said of Scott. “The greatest joy for me is he's been able to infuse his personality in our room and is always preaching about the culture.
“You need that war daddy. But off the field, he's a big teddy bear.”
Scott has 95 tackles (11 for losses, three sacks) in 40 career games (37 starts).
“It has definitely flown by,” Scott, who is from Largo, Fla., said at the Rose Bowl. “I still remember the day at my house when I told my mom. She started crying when I was signing the papers and all of the dramatics that come with that.
“It’s one of the best decisions that I’ve made.”
Faoliu had 39 tackles and two sacks in 13 games. Graham (64 tackles, two interceptions) and Lenoir (47 tackles, one interception) had solid junior seasons but gave up some big plays during the costly 31-28 loss at Arizona State.
All four juniors have received evaluations from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Unless a player is given a first- or second-round grade, the recommendation is to return to school.
The return of these four starters would bolster a unit that includes standout safety Jevon Holland (66 tackles, four interceptions), Rose Bowl hero Brady Breeze (two interceptions, four fumble recoveries) and Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year Kayvon Thibodeaux (14 tackles for loss, nine sacks).
Oregon’s incoming recruiting class is also loaded with defensive talent, including five-star linebacker prospects Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell.
Coach Mario Cristobal, who has been interviewing offensive coordinator candidates to replace Marcus Arroyo, will also be available to the media on Monday.
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