What the Pac-12 return means for Penei Sewell, Deommodore Lenoir, & Thomas Graham Jr.

What the Pac-12 return means for Sewell, Lenoir, & Graham Jr. originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

On Thursday, the Pac-12 was the fifth and final conference in the Power 5 to bring football back in 2020.

It’s been a long, bumpy road, but Pac-12 coaches, players and fans rejoiced in the decision that was approved. Better late than never, right? 

After months of uncertainty, some players took matters into their own hands and controlled what they could in regards to their futures. For the Oregon Ducks, those players were Penei Sewell, Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham Jr.

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal joined SportsCenter on Friday morning to discuss the Pac-12’s decision to play, the excitement of his team and what comes next in Eugene, Oregon. 

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Sewell, the 2019 Outland Trophy winner and a projected top-5 draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, announced on September 7 that he was opting out of the next season and declared for the draft. He hired an agent already as well.

“He made his decision certainly for him and his situation. He’s a projected maybe second, third overall pick,” said Cristobal. “It’s the right time and the right thing for him to do and we support our players regardless of what they choose to do.

As for junior corners Lenoir and Graham Jr., the two have been staples in the Oregon secondary for three years now. Weeks after a 2020 Rose Bowl victory, the two along with junior defensive linemen Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu announced they were to return to Oregon for their senior seasons and hold off on the NFL Draft for one more year.

Then, chaos struck with the coronavirus pandemic which led to so much uncertainty in the college football world. 

Within 24 hours of one another, both Lenoir and Graham Jr., announced they were to opt out and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Now that the college football season will return starting on November 6, what does this mean for players who have opted out? Can they opt back in? Neither Lenoir or Graham Jr. have hired agents just yet.

“There is some NCAA logistical stuff that we got to work through and find out, see who wants to opt back and wants to stay on course to go out for the NFL,” said Cristobal. “We’re going to wait and see how that thing plays out. With whatever we have on the roster, we’ll move forward with.”

Lenoir and Graham have not made a decision yet on what to do as of the time of this published article. It’s been not even 24 hours since the Pac-12 announcement. However, if the two do decide to suit up for one more “shortened” season with the Ducks, then Oregon’s secondary will return everyone from that dominant 2019 team.