5-Star DE Kayvon Thibodeaux Commits to Oregon over Alabama, Florida State, More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2018

Photo credit: 247Sports.

Oregon made a significant addition to its future front four Saturday by securing a commitment from defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux announced his choice on ESPN during halftime of the New Mexico Bowl.

According to 247Sports, he's a 5-star recruit who ranks as the No. 2 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive end in the class of 2019 behind only Georgia commit Nolan Smith.

In an interview with Greg Biggins of 247Sports, Thibodeaux explained his decision and mentioned the Oregon coaching staff:

"There were a lot of reasons why I chose Oregon. I have a great comfort level with the coaching staff and I know I can go in there and get developed. I've known coach [Keith] Heyward since I was just a freshman and I really like coach Joe [Salave'a, DL coach] a lot. He's a great coach, one of the best coaches in the country and I can't wait to learn from him.

"I have a strong relationship with coach [Mario] Cristobal too. He knows me really well and we talk about my interest outside of football and what I want to do. It's never just about football with him, he's a players coach and I'm very comfortable with him and the rest of the staff."

Thibodeaux also noted his desire to stay at defensive end was a driving force behind his choice: "Oregon wanted me as a defensive end, and that's where I'm comfortable. They want me with my hand in the ground, off the edge, rushing the passer. I'll move around to take advantage of mismatches, but they want me getting after the quarterback; that's what I feel I do best, and the defense fits me really well."

Several elite programs pursued the player, including Florida State, Florida, USC, LSU and Alabama, per 247Sports.

Thibodeaux is a weak-side defensive end, and he has been a standout performer at Oaks Christian High School in California.

According to Max Preps, the 6'5", 230-pound pass-rusher put up huge numbers in 2018 with 54 tackles, 18.0 sacks and 19.0 tackles for loss.

While Thibodeaux may still fill out his tall frame, his quickness and explosive first step off the ball make him a prime candidate to be a college superstar.

As evidenced by his comments to Jason Jordan of USA Today in January, he has the will to get to the top: "The grind and love for competition. I love to compete against the best. Being from California, we don't have the reputation on the field like guys from Alabama and Texas, so I'm constantly working hard to prove we're just as good over here."

It is difficult to doubt Thibodeaux's skill set and production, and he's especially valuable because of the sport's amount of high-volume passing games.

He is the closest thing to a complete product along the defensive line in the class of 2019, but if he bulks up and gets stronger, there won't be much preventing him from putting up outlandish numbers.

Thibodeaux can also rush the passer with his hand on the ground or from a standing position, and that type of versatility will make him even harder to block.

Oregon has long been known for its explosive offense, but that identity could change with his arrival.

While the Ducks still have a lot of offensive talent, Cristobal is clearly placing more emphasis on a traditional style of football that will see Oregon control the ball offensively and play strong defense.

If Thibodeaux is everything the Ducks expect him to be, they may soon find themselves in the Pac-12 title and national championship conversations despite not having won double-digit games in a season since they went 13-2 in 2014.

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