Each year in the land of college football recruiting, there always seems to be at least one recruit who is a headline grabber. Whether it’s for his words or actions, the spotlight just seems to be on him.
This year, that spotlight has been on 4-star athlete Deommodore Lenoir. Not just because he is one of the best players outright in the 2017 recruiting class, but also because of his tentative — to say the least — decision to play at Oregon during the offseason chaos that resulted in the dismissal of Mark Helfrich and his staff. Helfrich and company recruited Lenoir initially, but now he has to interact with an entirely new group.
So what brought Lenoir back to Eugene? In an interview with Scout.com, he said it was the “building of relationships with the coaches. I felt like I could relate to them better than the previous staff.” Lenoir’s major options besides Oregon had been Nebraska and UCLA. He described the decision of Oregon over Nebraska as being “one of the hardest decisions of my life. Nebraska put up a fight.”
Head coach Willie Taggart, recruiting hound that he is, obviously was instrumental in securing Lenoir again. Lenoir isn’t the first player who Taggart has had to coax into putting on a Ducks uniform, but with the way Lenoir went about things this offseason, it was definitely one of higher profile. Even before Taggart and Lenoir met, Lenoir was excited to meet him. “I can’t wait to meet him … seems pretty cool,” Lenoir told The Oregonian.
The Middle Man
Lenoir hails from Bishop Mora Salesian High School, located in the heart of Los Angeles. Because he lives in a place with so much football depth in one of the most popular recruiting areas in the country, he has access to tons of players and coaches. When Lenoir committed to the UO initially back on July 26th of 2016, he was the face of this recruiting class.
He was an important figure for influencing players, including Jaylon Redd and teammate Nick Pickett. All of these defensive backs had a vision of playing together in Eugene.
That vision is still alive, but it almost didn’t happen. Lenoir, listed at 5’11” and 190 lbs, is one of the premier cornerbacks in the country, and the 48th-ranked player in the nation according to Rivals.com. He also has good experience with kick returns, so that is a possibility for him at Oregon.
Prior to his de-commitment, he had been one of the most vocal leaders for the 2017 recruiting class. His confidence level was high to say the least, and he claimed, via his Twitter account, that he and the fellow recruits were coming to take starting spots.
“Well that mindset better change Fast because Spots Will Be Taken Period” 𞲀 https://t.co/l8ME2Mp3u6
— D (@Deommo_Lenoir) October 12, 2016
One thing Lenoir has on his resume that most recruits don’t is his ability to play quarterback. No, that’s not a typo. Last season when the starting QB was injured, Lenoir stepped in and performed pretty darn well, passing for 91 yards and rushing for 185 and 5 total touchdowns in the Southern Section Division 5 playoff opener.
While he has excelled as a defensive back, Lenoir didn’t start playing football at that position. He was actually a running back, but he really has a talent for playing in the secondary. You can see just how knowledgeable he is about defense in this well-done piece by Fox Sports West:
Lenoir has a no-nonsense approach to his play on and off the football field. It’s just the way he was raised. “Growing up in South Los Angeles taught me a lot,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “It taught me to stay focused in order to be able to go where I want to go, and that’s to the NFL. You have to stay in the classroom and do what you’re told to do.”
Having gone to Catholic schools since kindergarten, faith is a big part of Lenoir’s life. It was in his theology class during his sophomore year that he received word of his first scholarship offer, a full ride to Tennessee. “I just broke down in tears,” he would recount in an interview later. “It was like a dream come true. I called my mom, my dad, all my family members. It was a great moment because it felt like all the hard work I had put in had paid off.”
Lenoir is clearly not afraid to get down and dirty. “He’s a different kind of kid,” said his head coach Angelo Jackson. In that same interview with the L.A. Times, Lenoir described his mentality while on the field. ”You have to have fast feet,” he said. “You have to be good with your hands and be able to move with the receiver and watch their hips. I love it. It shows me that I’m better than you. And if you say you’re better than me, you’re going to have to prove it.”
Despite a stellar regular season, notching 2,430 yards and 26 touchdowns, his talent really shown on the national stage during the 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. There, at the cornerback position, he shut down the East’s wide receivers. As reported by Rivals.com, he “found most of his success matching receivers step-for-step on longer vertical routes, but routinely finds ways to get his hands on passes one way or the other.”
His hard work has taken him far. Last season he earned co-MVP in of the Angelus League along with Washington State commit Jamire Calvin. His goal for this debut season is to be named to the Freshman all-American team. In Lenoir’s own words,
“They want me to be used as Jabril Peppers.“
That’s not a bad comparison. There’s always room on the roster for a player like that.
Eugene, Ore. (From Half Moon Bay, Calif.)
Top Photo by Tony Morano for 247 Sports
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