The ducks run onto the field. Oregon Ducks football takes on Utah for the Pac 12 Championship game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Dec. 6, 2019. (DL Young/Emerald)

The Oregon defense has been widely recognized as one of the strongest and most talented squads in the nation. With more than a month before the 2020 season, players are already beginning to gain national recognition. 

Ducks senior cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. joins junior nickel Jevon Holland in contention for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. Last year’s award was given to LSU’s, now-NFL, cornerback Grant Delpit. 

Oregon is one of only eight programs to have more than one player on the list. 

Holland, who was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019, has also been named to the Bednarik Award list. Ducks’ weak-side defensive end and former five-star recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux will accompany Holland as a contender for the award, which is given to the NCAA’s best defensive player. 

Defensive tackle Jordon Scott, Holland and Thibodeaux were all named to the Bronko Nagurski Award List, designated to the defensive player of the year. 

Isaac Slade-Matautia rounds out the Ducks’ defensive honors, landing a spot on the list for the Butkus Award, given annually to the top linebacker at the collegiate level. 


The Ducks were acknowledged on the offensive side as well, with four players finding themselves on national award lists. 

Junior CJ Verdell will compete for the Doak Walker award, granted to the top running back in college football. Verdell was a huge part of the Ducks’ offense last season, rushing for eight touchdowns and 1,220 yards throughout. 

Ducks’ senior Hunter Kampmoyer was named Friday to the preseason watchlist of the John Mackey Award, symbolizing the NCAA’s most outstanding tight end. Kampmoyer started seven games in 2019, acting not only as a passing threat, but a key blocker as well. 

Oregon’s senior wide receiver Johnny Johnson was given a spot on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. In his first preseason honor of his career, Johnson is among 55 players named to the list. The award, decided upon annually, indicates the nation’s best receiver. 

Additionally, junior left tackle Penei Sewell will compete for his second Outland Trophy in 2020. Scott is also in the running for the award, given to the best inside lineman in college football.