Star Oregon DE and top NFL draft prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux leaves win over Fresno State with ankle injury

One of the best defensive players in the country suffered an ankle injury on Saturday.

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux suffered a left ankle injury during the first half of the Ducks' game vs. Fresno State. Thibodeaux was able to walk off the field under his own power after he was tended to by Oregon's training staff but never returned to the game.

He didn't immediately rejoin the team on the sideline after halftime. When he did come back onto the field he was wearing a walking boot on his left ankle and was in street clothes.

Hopefully for Thibodeaux and Oregon, the boot was just a precautionary measure and his injury isn't too serious. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said after the game that X-rays were negative and that Thibodeaux had suffered a sprain that the team didn't believe was serious. The Ducks play at Ohio State in Week 2 in one of the biggest non-conference games of 2021.

Oregon won the game 31-24 after playing the second half without its star. The Ducks tied the game at 24-24 in the fourth quarter and QB Anthony Brown scored the go-ahead TD with less than three minutes left on an option keeper on fourth down.

Fresno State got the ball back for a potential game-tying TD but turned the ball over on downs.

Thibodeaux, a junior, entered the season as a likely top-five pick in the 2022 NFL draft and a preseason All-American. A former five-star recruit, Thibodeaux had 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks in seven games a sophomore in 2020.

He's been the best recruit that Oregon coach Mario Cristobal has recruited to the Ducks in his tenure. Thibodeaux was the No. 6 player in the country and the No. 1 weakside defensive end in the class of 2019 according to Rivals.

Thibodeaux is pivotal to Oregon's hopes of repeating as Pac-12 champions and will be vital to any Oregon hopes of beating Ohio State in seven days. We'll see if he can suit up against the Buckeyes in Columbus in Week 2.