Kayvon Thibodeaux is a future millionaire, one of the top-rated prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft and many hope he won’t fall lower than the second pick (if he isn’t picked first overall).
When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls Thibodeaux’s name in late April, he’ll follow it up with “defensive end, Oregon.” Thibodeaux ultimately chose the Ducks even though he was not short of options or offers. That includes Alabama and Nick Saban.
Thibodeaux, speaking with Fox College Football’s Joel Klatt during the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday, revealed the deciding factor that led him to attend school in Oregon: the “stigmatism” of an Alabama education.
“Do you know the stigma of education in Alabama?” he asked Klatt. “It’s not the west coast.”
Thibodeaux, of course, meant “stigma” instead of “stigmatism.” The latter is an incorrect acronym for “stigma” and “astigmatism” (a common imperfection in the curvature of the eye).
His comments, misused as they were, were prompted by Klatt asking what it was like to be recruited by Saban. Thibodeaux said he didn’t like Saban’s recruiting argument that players want to play when they think they’re ready, as opposed to when Saban thinks they’re ready. That moment, Thibodeaux said, led him to think Alabama was not for him.
Klatt then asked Thibodeaux if he knew that each of Saban’s recruiting classes had won a national championship during his time in Tuscaloosa. Thibodeaux replied, “And that’s important. Hopefully everyone will have jobs and stuff afterward.”
Thibodeaux went on to explain his decision to attend Oregon, saying that he wanted to make sure he could have a career outside of soccer once his playing days are over. To that end, aligning himself with a brand like Nike was also important to his future non-football-related endeavors:
“If I give you a fishing rod, would you know how to use it? If I have never learned (to fish) or if school has never been important to me, or a job, or a career has never been important until I finished playing soccer, how am I going to know how to get a career or a race? a job? I will not do it
Do you know what I sat and thought about? I sat down and said what world do I want to be a part of? I said if I go to Alabama, I’m going to win national championships, literally. But do I want to be a guy known as a national championship winner or do I want to be a guy known for being part of the largest organization in the world?
What people don’t realize is that soccer is an American sport. So no matter how great Alabama is, you only play soccer in America, Canada, and a couple of other places. But a brand like Nike, I mean, for me it was like what brand associations do I want to be linked to? For me, I already hate the stigma of soccer players being dumb. Do you know the stigma of education in Alabama? It is not the west coast. It’s not Harvard. “
Thibodeaux is credited with 123 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, seven passes defended and three forced fumbles in three years at Oregon.
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