Oregon’s secondary is one of the nation’s top position groups entering the 2020 season.
Two members of the deep unit, junior defensive back Jevon Holland and senior cornerback Thomas Graham, are on the preseason Jim Thorpe Award watch list released Monday.
An argument could be made for several other Ducks that were not recognized, including Rose Bowl defensive most valuable player Brady Breeze.
Holland, a Thorpe Award semifinalist and all-Pac-12 first team selection in 2019, is the team’s top returning tackler (66) and also led the defense with four interceptions.
A projected future NFL first-round pick, Holland had five interceptions as a freshman in 2018. He is the first player to lead the program in interceptions two consecutive years since Jairus Byrd (2006-07).
Graham had two interceptions, bringing his career total to eight, was third on the team in tackles (64) and second in pass breakups (10) last season. He is the FBS active leader in passes defended (40) and pass breakups (32)
Breeze came up big in Oregon’s biggest games last season.
The senior safety recorded a career-high 12 tackles, a forced fumble and returning a fumble for a touchdown in the Ducks’ dramatic 28-27 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Breeze had a key fourth-down stop and interception to set the tone for the defense in the win over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game and a memorable pick-six in the route at USC.
Deommodore Lenoir has made 27 consecutive starts at cornerback for the Ducks and was an all-Pac-12 second team selection last season. All five of the senior’s career interceptions have come in Pac-12 play.
Senior safety Nick Pickett has 126 career tackles and is one of the nation’s best players in coverage.
Safety Verone McKinley was a FWAA freshman all-American last season after matching Holland for the team lead in interceptions (four).
Sophomore Mykael Wright is one of the top kick return men in the country and emerging star at cornerback.
The Ducks have also added junior Bennett Williams, the nation’s top junior college safety, to the roster.
Other Pac-12 players on the Thorpe Award watch list are California’s Camryn Bynum, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo, USC’s Talanoa Hufanga and Washington’s Elijah Molden.
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.