EUGENE — Pro days are about evaluating potential in the NFL. But Oregon’s also was a bit about the potential of last season.

With four of nine participants having opted out of last season after the Pac-12’s initial August decision to suspend all sports until January 2021, including Penei Sewell, Jevon Holland, Thomas Graham Jr. and Brady Breeze, there was a feeling of what could have been for the Ducks in 2020.

“I really do believe that the situation out West was a lot different than the rest of the country,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.

“It wasn’t like we were told it was going to take a little while. We were postponed twice and really canceled. There was no guarantee of actually playing a season and that’s when the opt-outs took place. I don’t think anyone should judge that. Those guys were tremendous competitors. Some of the guys that were seniors that did opt out, they had made the decision to return, had gone through spring ball, had gone through the offseason. They had every intention and carried out their intentions through actions to play this year, it just didn’t happen.”

The four Oregon players who opted out are at peace with their decisions, as is Deommodore Lenoir, who opted out and chose to return when the season was restored.

But that didn’t make it easy for them to sit out last fall or remove their frustration with the manner in which the Pac-12 went about handling the pandemic last summer compared to its peers across the Power 5, FBS and AAU.

“When it came down to it in August we were told the season was canceled, we were super frustrated as seniors,” Breeze said. “I could tell the whole Oregon coaching staff was frustrated because they did every type of process we could to make it to where we could play but then the Pac-12 still for whatever dumb reason, they decided to call off the season.

“We said our goodbyes; we were hugging the coaches, hugging the players. Us seniors, we thought we were never going to play for Oregon ever again. I moved out of my apartment, moved back to Lake Oswego, was living with my parents, getting ready to start training and getting ready for the NFL process. Mentally I was checked out and then five weeks later I get a phone call like, ‘Hey you got to be here tomorrow; we got practice tomorrow, we got a game in four weeks so you got to be here to start training.’ It was such short notice and that’s really what it came down to.”

Breeze will be one of the more fascinating cases to watch in this year’s draft. He closed the 2019 season on a tear and earned Rose Bowl Defensive MVP honors. Had he played in a full 2020 season, there’s a chance he’s no less than an all-Pac-12 performer. But teams will have minimal game tape and some impressive measurables from pro day to base his evaluation.

There’s also finite game film for Jevon Holland, though he’s widely projected as a second- or third-round pick. Having played both free safety and nickel and served as the primary punt returner for the Ducks, Holland offers a lot of versatility for a safety.

“I knew what I was capable of and the level of play that I have, especially throughout the last couple of years and feel like I put in the work,” Holland said. “When the situation came to be I decided to go with the opt-out. It wasn’t really a gamble. I wasn’t gambling anything. I knew the outcome was going to be what I was going to put down and I went out and I did that.”

Of Oregon’s players who opted out, Graham has by far the most film to go off of. He was a three-year starter and improved each season. The cornerback also played in the Senior Bowl to give a more current showing of his talents on the field in lieu of the season.

“There was no regrets for me personally,” Graham said. “I felt like the decision that I made was the right decision. I missed being around my boys. It was a little difficult because I missed playing with them.”

Shedding a few pounds and running the 40 in the mid-4.4s will help Graham’s cause.

Lenoir was the only Oregon player to opt out and then back in to last season. His production fell, with 30 tackles and an interception in seven games last season, but it was due more to teams avoiding throwing in his direction.

The outside corner felt he became a smarter player by coming back for another season.

“I feel like my IQ gradually went up with me coming back and having the experience that I was able to gain from coach (Rod) Chance,” Lenoir said. “It made me want to be more of a leader, knowing I was one of the oldest guys coming back.”

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