The dominoes have begun to fall for the Oregon Ducks football team.
Monday, it was the tone-setting 330-pound left tackle Penei Sewell — a surefire top five pick.
Yesterday, highly-touted senior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir opted to join his teammate and forgo the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
This morning, fellow cornerback and vocal leader Thomas Graham Jr. announced, he too, will follow his dreams and opt out of his final season.
“I was excited to return to the University of Oregon for my senior season,” he said. “My plan was to leave it all out of the field with my brothers one last time and bring home the National Championship. I was excited to finish what we started - but due to the cancellation of this season, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.”
Although Graham Jr.’s legacy as a Duck will now be cut short, the defensive back let his imprint on the program.
He would have entered his final year as the FBS leader in passes defended (40) and pass breakups (32), and one of only three players with double digit pass breakups in both of the last two seasons.
Last season, the Ducks’ secondary, under newly hired defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, was earning lofty comparisons to the 2008 group which sent four players to the NFL. This year, the group had the chance to take that mantle of the stingiest Oregon secondary to date.
The Ducks won't be hurting to fill the voids left by Lenoir and Graham Jr., but it will force younger players into roles they may not have expected to earn until a year or two down the line. Mykael Wright, who made a splash as both a cornerback and return man as a true freshman in 2019 will almost surely be given a starting role.
Fellow sophomores DJ James and Trikweze Bridges should volley for playing time as well as the incoming freshman, Dontae Manning.