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Nation's No. 1 Recruit Chooses Pac-12 School Over Alabama, Florida and FSU

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Alabama makes a habit of getting to top defensive recruits every year, and for good reason — the Crimson Tide are the most dominant program in college football.

But this year, the Pac-12’s Oregon Ducks landed the big prize as a player who some consider the top prospect in the class of 2019, Kayvon Thibodeaux, picked Oregon over Alabama, Florida and Florida State.


The 6-foot-5, 234-pound defensive end out of Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, California, is the No. 1-ranked prospect in ESPN’s rankings. He’s ranked No. 10 by both 247Sports and Scout.com, and No. 2 by MaxPreps.

“I’ll be taking my talents to the University of Oregon,” Thibodeaux said Saturday in announcing his decision on ESPN.

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Thibodeaux was asked what role Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal played in the recruiting process.

“Mario Cristobal is a great guy. On our home visit he really touched down, my mom loved him,” said Thibodeaux, who was sitting between his mom and dad during the announcement.

“He’s a God-fearing man and you know, and he can take my game to the next level,” Thibodeaux added.

Will Thibodeaux help turn Oregon into a title contender?

Oregon is 8-4 this year and finished 5-4 in the Pac-12. The Ducks will take on Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl on December 31.

Thibodeaux was asked why he chose a school in Oregon that’s known more so for its offense rather its defense.

“Because you can take over on the defense,” he said. “You can be the best man, you can be the biggest man, and that’s my goal.”

By all accounts, Thibodeaux has a real chance to be a superstar at the NCAA level.

“Kayvon is a very disruptive, explosive player off the edge … capable of taking over a game not just because of his talent level, but because of his tremendous effort,” ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said last week, according to The Oregonian. “As a defensive end, he’s a premium player at a premium position.”

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Thibodeaux’s decision is also “critical for the state of the Pac-12,” Luginbill said, per the Central Oregon Bulletin.

“You just don’t have players that are this impactful along the defensive front coming out of the West Coast each and every year,” he added. “The defensive front personnel in this league needs to improve greatly.”

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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