Kayvon Thibodeaux Joins Payton Pritchard in Endorsement Deals

OregonReigns Editorials 21 Comments

After years of controversy, the NCAA has finally approved new NIL rules (Name, Image and Likeness) for collegiate athletes. The news comes in the wake of a range of policy updates, including a new of the federal ban on sports betting (2018). Clearly, sports are in for a shift—and updated NIL rules are designed to benefit top players.

Now, NCAA athletes are allowed to profit from sponsorship deals that use their name, image, and likeness (NIL). With universities raking in millions (sometimes hundreds of millions) from successful athletic programs, many have long argued collegiate athletes deserve compensation.

Others point to the high level of play, which is on par with the major leagues; hence, skilled athletes deserve to profit from their unique talents. This holds true… for the most part. Despite the level of competition and competitiveness that all NCAA DI athletes face, there’s one aspect of college play that doesn’t reflect the big leagues: scheduling.

Scott Kelley

Kayvon Thibodeaux eats up linemen on every play.

Players in the UK’s Premier League, for example, might face international travel for multiple games a week. Not only does this affect a team’s chances of success and player readiness, but it also drastically changes how players and staff prepare for matches. The result is more content for fans, as well as more challenges for those facing fixture congestion across various leagues and competitions.

Aside from the intensity of scheduling, most of the challenges faced by NCAA athletes will be comparable to a stretch in the NFL or NBA. There’s no schooling post-graduation, but there are other responsibilities that pro athletes must learn to balance, from a social life to relocations to contract negotiations.

Thibodeaux Deserves It All

Since the NCAA’s NIL announcement in mid-summer, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux has already signed a lucrative six-figure deal tied to the 2021 season. The football star entered the school in 2018 after graduating as USA Today’s High School Football Defensive Player of the Year.

Since then, he’s racked up a series of accolades while also helping push the Ducks to Pac-12 Conference championships in 2019 and 2020. Along with Penei Sewell, Thibodeaux has been one of the most competitive Ducks to take to the gridiron under Coach Mario Cristobal.

Pac-12 Video

Kayvon Thibodeaux is very polished with the media, hence ideal for NIL deals.

On his own, Thibodeaux has also nabbed a Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year award (2019), a Morris Trophy (2020), a First-Team All-Pac-12 nod (2020) and the MVP of the 2020 Pac-12 Championship. Clearly, Thibodeaux is an indispensable talent on the gridiron—and that translates to cold hard cash for the Ducks football program and university.

Even so, Thibodeaux will never see a penny of that money aside from his full athletic scholarship, which will see him graduate from the university for free (should he finish his senior year). Under the NCAA’s new NIL rules, he’ll make money on his popularity alone.

The Six-Figure Deal

On July 7, Thibodeaux announced via social media that he was honored to partner with two athletic pioneers: Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and Tinker Hatfield, an Air Jordans shoe designer. Thibodeaux announced an exclusive NFT deal with both, in which digital pieces will sell for around $100. Already, he’s in a position to sign deals with Nike once in the NFL. However, he’s also signed another contract with a memorabilia company, which will use his name, image, and likeness to create unique pieces commemorating his 2021 season with the Ducks.


Kayvon Thibodeaux at Ohio State.

Given this is expected to be Thibodeaux’s last year with the Ducks before opting to join the 2022 NFL draft, memorabilia are expected to be a huge success, with rumors swirling about a six-figure check for the year-long contract. (Assuming he returns to the field from his injury in the Fresno State game)

Though many approve of Thibodeaux’s move to opt into the current NFT fad, his memorabilia deal will likely see larger, more immediate profits. Autzen Stadium regularly fills with thousands of screaming fans—but even more fans watch remotely.

These tens of thousands of fans aren’t just interested in filling up seats, they’re eager for physical pieces that remind them of big wins. Since joining the team, Thibodeaux has been indispensable in orchestrating some of these wins, making him a prime candidate for memorabilia campaigns. As he plays well and the Ducks win–both will prosper with the new NIL rules in place.

Lakeside, Oregon
Top Photo by Scott Kelley

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I really don’t care if they make money or don’t make money. If they are good enough to make it with the NIL, then they will make $$$ in the pros. Either way, they are getting rich off of football.
One thing that confuses me is why they have been exploited at the stand up end position. I know there are injuries, but…

Where has Naverette been? Last report was that he did not dress for the game. Is he even still on the team? HIs profile should be perfect for that position.

What has been going on with recruiting since 2018? Why is there not depth at these positions?

Is Shipley the best they have? Ma’ae seems to make a play every now and then. I think he is growing into being a very good player.

Is the plan that Funa will hold the edge and stop some runs and KT will get to the passer on every pass play? With no ‘plan B’?

Why don’t we see more of A. Jackson with all these injuries? Is he too small for the position?

Is the team trying to fit a 4-2 scheme with 3-4 players??? THAT is what I think. Did that make ISM want to leave?

Is it time to admit that the 4-2-5 base defense isn’t working and go back to the 3-4-4, and switch to the 4-2-5 on 3rd and long?

If they stick with the 4-2-5, will they be able to recruit the kind of stand up ends they need to play the position? How many KTs are out there?

I am now thinking that the issues are NOT the coaches, the players, the juice/mojo/attitude/etc, but DeRuyter’s defensive scheme.

I say that if you put these same defensive players back in Leavett’s scheme, the D is a whole lot better. Oregon has nose guards, and DEs/DTs, and outside LBs for the 3-4.

Also, most of the recent edge recruits will fit as blitzing outside LBs better than stand up ends, in my opinion. And, I think the current players fit Avalos’s scheme as well.

Bottom Line: teams full of 2 and 3 stars and putting up BIG YARDS on a defense full of 4 and 5 stars.

What will Stanford do to this defense with their big TEs who can block? 2 TEs and an O line will be 7 blocking 6. That puts a blocker on Noah.

I hope KT and Funa play and Keith Brown has a solid game, or else it could get ugly. The good news is that the Oregon secondary is getting better and better each game, and the interior D line is playing well too.

Is this going to be like the 2016 season, where the offense did well, but the D didn’t fit the new scheme? Without all those wild throws by opposing QBs becoming INTs, are they still 4-0? What if McKee plays like a Heisman QB?

The injured coming back could fix everything – lets hope so.


Lot of good and interesting questions that I have asked myself as well so can’t help you on answering because I am a bit miffed as well.

But while we are on the topic of asking mystifying questions I would like to add this one:

Do the coaches really plan to run Seven McGee between the tackles in future games/years when they have two solidly built backs by the names of Trey Benson and Byron Cardwell?

Jon Joseph

FWIW, Duel Gaming Site Model gives the Ducks an 88.4% chance to win at Stanford.

Fortunately, my friend in Vegas held off so I have the Ducks -7.5 instead of -8.

Seeing as a half point hardly matters when betting the favorite, .5 is not all that significant.


I just want to say thank you for all the great responses to my question yesterday. It seems pretty unanimous that the playoff is the next step we need.
I appreciate the input.
Before the season started, I wanted a 3rd Pac12 championship and a Rosebowl win.

But the talent and potential is clearly there now, they just have to bring it more consistently each week. Which seems to be a tough thing to do thus far.

Jon Joseph

Interesting take by Stewart Mandel today as to why a number of CFB’s best teams are struggling in 2021.

Mandel notes that while Bryce Young is playing great at Bama, Matt Corral is performing well at Mississippi, and JT Daniels would be up there with more reps, the top QBs as this point in the season are not playing for the ‘Usual Suspects.’

And guys who were expected to play well, OK’s Rattler, Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz, Iowa State’s Brock Purdy and Clemson’s DGU, for example, have not done so.

Week 4 – Top Performing CFB QBs YTD –

Coastal Carolina – Grayson McCall

Pitt – Kenny Pickett

W KY – Bailey Zappe

Liberty – Malik Willis


The vast majority of CFB fans can be heard asking: ‘Who are these guys?’

More top 25 teams have lost at this point in the 2021 season than in the last 40 years of play,


Johnathon Smith is doing more with less than just about any program out there. The rodents are going to be our nemesis for the foreseeable future as long as JS stay put.

I suppose it will be which of these two hot coaches leave that will have the biggest impact on the two programs. I think OSU will have the harder time replacing Smith. They made a great hire with Smith.

All the great assistants, and their top coach left the dawgs. Tough times up north, interesting times in corn valley!

Jon Joseph

To date, the Beavers is #1 at outperforming the results predicted by SP+. Doing so by more than 10 points a game!

Would love to see OR ST play Purdue today with Nolan at QB.

Or to have had OR ST play Hawaii before tripping to Purdue.

At Purdue was an unfortunate L. An L that is keeping the Beavs from just inside or just outside the top 25.


I can’t join the OSU and Jonathan Smith bandwagon yet.
2018 2-10, 1-8 in Pac 12 play
2019 5-7, 4-5
2020 2-5, 2-5
2021 3-1, 1-0 Wins against Hawaii, Idaho and USC which looked terrible vs WSU.

Jon Joseph

Fair point. But I sure like the way the schedule sets up for OSU for the rest of this season.

David Marsh

The Extra year of eligibility REALLY helped the Beavers. They get another year out of their multi-year starters. This will be the springboard for the Oregon State program to build off of.

I checked the schedule this morning and it does look like Oregon State is FAVORED against Washington, not by much granted. If I were a gambler I would put money on OSU this weekend. I think OSU is the better team but Washington does have some big bodies.. furthermore, this will be Lake’s second away game ever. The first one didn’t go well for them…

Looking forward to the Game Formally Known As the Civil War this year… especially if Oregon can get healthy and get most of the bugs worked out.

Jon Joseph

I think the line has moved from slightly in favor of UW to -2.5 Beavers?


“He that is of the opinion that money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.” Benjamin Franklin

Kind of a Pandora’s box. It will be interesting to watch how the NIL contracts impact collegiate sports.

Contract law may be a little overwhelming for a kid out of high school. Guess we need some more sports agents looking out for these kids. (Sarcasm)

Jon Joseph

Was Spencer Rattler booed and called out at home last Saturday because of his NIL deals? Spencer is constantly on air in Norman endorsing a particular car dealership. Since making bank, Spencer has played nowhere effectively as he did in 2020.

DGU, a Fansville regular, was booed at home in Clemson at the end of the Georgia Tech game. A game where the Clemson O continued to be MIA. DGU is making bank. DGU has yet to throw for 200 yards in 2021.

Booing at NFL games? Been going on for decades. Booing at college games? Historically has not been directed at players but at coaches the fans want gone. SEE: Clay Helton.

I expect as CFB becomes more professional in nature that raining boos down on underperforming college athletes will be happening far more frequently than in the past?

Expectations and jealously follow those being paid well to perform well in front of live audiences. Overpaid CEOs may be fired but they usually are not booed.

Also contributing to fan unrest? The cost of attending a game today requires more than chicken feed. People want to be entertained. When the other team holds the ball for extended periods of time why is anyone surprised when the home crowd is silent?

Money is not per se evil. The love of money is evil. Money in a person’s hand, especially in the hands of college ‘youngsters, is bound to draw reactions that will not always be positive.

I believe it is proper for student-athletes to own their NIL and to be allowed to market same. But no one should be surprised when lucrative NIL deals change the relationship between the athlete and the fan.


It will be interesting to see the teams that have the highest “payrolls”, and their ranking once we have another 3 to 4 years of recruiting under these NIL contracts.


Agree the disdain for a programs failure has been left to the coaches in the past. A coach like Helton gave ample fodder to that fire.

If players begin to make lots of money and don’t perform then it will be of interest to see the level of scorn they receive. I suppose how they make the money will play a role.

I still remember how the Ducks use to pick a few athletes to have their uniforms available before the season began. If they didn’t become the star, or had a lackluster year the uniform stayed on the rack. If another student athlete became the man on the field, his uniform wasn’t available.

I would imagine with the NIL deal this trend won’t be in effect. If a student athlete, say Donte Thornton, if he was thrown the ball to more than twice, became a superstar all of a sudden his uniform would become available. He would have his jersey made, and benefit from his 57 yds per catch average while scoring every other time he catches the ball.

This kind of change I can see as beneficial. The market reacting to the excitement over a player, and his outstanding performance.

If the NIL becomes just another way to recruit, and spoil the enabled super athlete it won’t have a positive impact on any program. Unfortunately this may be the largest way the NIL impacts programs from the early data we are seeing.

Kids just out of high school trying to be student athletes, which is hard enough, don’t have the ability to deal with national fame and a large amount of money. Professional athletes can barely handle that type of money and attention, and all they do is play ball.

Jon Joseph

Great points.

Another top HS prospect, #3 recruit in the country, will no longer play for Frisco (TX) high but will instead prepare for college ball.

He is undecided between Bama and Texas.

So different from when this old man was growing up. But one thing that is certain? Change.

Santa Rosa Duck

I think we will know what NIL does to college sports but it may take a couple more years. As for KT I hope he earns his keep with total mayhem in the Stanford backfield on Saturday. GO DUCKS!

He so changed the Fresno State game when he was in there, and I’d love to see him at full health once again!

Yes, the Ducks D is far better with his play and his leadership on the field.

Great call on the Fresno game. T stays healthy and is the game close?

I did not believe that the Ducks could defeat the Bucks without Mr. T on the field.

Much as his talent is missed, the ‘other guys’ can step up like they did in Columbus, and so miserably failed to do so vs Arizona.

As you have so noted Charles, talent is important, but not as important as is attitude.


The game at the Horseshoe is definitely one to ponder. We are all, with good reason, wondering about the attitude, mindset that the Ducks have brought to the Fresno State, Stony Brook, Arizona games. “Play down to the competition”, “turn the light switch on”, “playing with fire”.

What was the mindset for the Ducks going into the game with the Buckeyes…without Thibodeaux and Flowe? It’s the best performance of the year. If attitude and mindset are crucial to a team’s success, it follows that Oregon should emulate the tOSU model for the rest of the season. But what was it?

Jon Joseph

Man, if we only knew and could bottle it.