Kayvon Thibodeaux, NY Jets, Work Ethic, Character Concerns, NFL Draft
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon Football, NFL Draft, New York Jets, Getty Images

Kayvon Thibodeaux’s personal trainer squashes concerns about the highly-touted draft prospect’s work ethic

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux has been the 2022 NFL draft‘s most controversial player.

No stranger to the spotlight, Thibodeaux has been the presumed first-overall pick in 2022 since his freshman year in Eugene, when he notched nine sacks at 18 years old. He continued that strong play over his next two seasons, carrying the potential top-pick hype on his shoulders throughout.

Thibodeaux declared for the draft at the end of his junior year, ready to turn the hype into a reality.

For three straight years, no one questioned Kayvon Thibodeaux’s future as a soon-to-be NFL star, but the second he left Oregon, unfound rumors started sprouting up like weeds.

Reports from “unnamed NFL scouts” painted Thibodeaux as selfish, lazy, and not committed enough to football. They pointed to Thibodeaux’s confident demeanor – which some felt was more cockiness than confidence – as a reason to believe he would stop working on his craft once he had cashed his first check.

Despite these rumors lacking any true evidence, the damage had already been done. Almost immediately, the “lazy” label was pinned to Thibodeaux like a scarlet letter, and the formerly guaranteed first-overall pick is now viewed as an overrated jerk by many in the NFL media.

Jets X-Factor spoke with Kayvon Thibodeaux’s personal trainer, Travelle Gaines, in order to get the real story on Thibodeaux’s work ethic.

Gaines is a world-class trainer of professional athletes based in the Los Angeles area, working with players from multiple sports, such as Myles Garrett, D.K. Metcalf, Trae Young, and Jimmy Butler.

He first met Thibodeaux in 2017, after Thibodeaux transferred from Susan Miller Dorsey High School in South Central Los Angeles to Oaks Christian School, just east of Beverly Hills and roughly 15 miles from Gaines’ gym in West Hollywood.

Thibodeaux had just started gaining attention as a high-school phenom, and now that he was at the powerhouse Oaks Christian, he wanted the chance to be around, and train with, professional athletes. Gaines took Thibodeaux under his wing, and the pair have been working together ever since.

Having been around him since he was a wide-eyed 16-year-old working out alongside players like Saquon Barkley, Todd Gurley, and Randall Cobb, Gaines knows Thibodeaux just about better than anyone else. And in his opinion, the narratives about Thibodeaux being lazy and selfish couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The guy (Thibodeaux), he’s a worker”, Gaines told Jet X when asked to describe Thibodeaux’s work ethic. “He loves work. (…) All the kid cares about, just being real, all of his marketing deals, he’s either giving a portion, all of it, or having the companies he’s partnering with work with his foundation (The Jream Foundation).

“He’s opening up a school, whose first class of kids will come this summer, giving kids from the inner-city, South Central L.A., minority kids, he’s gonna bus them out to the Valley where he went to school at, give them sports performance training, tutoring, and all of the resources he had. And he’s paying for it out of his own pocket.”

The mainstream media may call him selfish, but Thibodeaux has goals and aspirations beyond himself, with none bigger than giving back to his community. His confidence comes from a place of dedication and self-assurance, not narcissism. Thibodeaux desired to be great, so from a young age, he made sure to surround himself with as many other great people as he could.

Gaines views this as a sign of Thibodeaux’s mental acuity and resourcefulness.

“What people always gotta understand about Kayvon is that he is very, very, very intelligent, and he works really hard, and he wants to learn. So he always puts himself around people who are great at what they do in their respective craft, whatever that craft is. He’s from Los Angeles, so he’s been around stars and celebrities for quite some time.”

Thibodeaux wasn’t star-struck when he was a high-schooler amongst professionals. He became a sponge and absorbed as much as he could from the players around him.

He also has no fear of criticism; rather, according to Gaines, he welcomes it.

“He (Thibodeaux) likes being critiqued. (…) If I call Kayvon like ‘yo, you played like s***’ or ‘you sucked’, he’ll be like ‘yeah, I did.’ He’s not full of himself. He’s a very tough critic of himself, he holds himself to a very high standard, and so he’s always searching and looking for ways to get better and to take coaching.”

Thibodeaux has clearly been taking care of his body since his college career ended, showing out at the combine with a 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash and 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press.

Gaines was hardly surprised by the numbers, pointing to Thibodeaux’s rigid workout regimen as another example of his dedication.

“He (Thibodeaux) works out three times a day, and one to two of those times are on his own. He’s up every morning, I’m not telling him to do it, he runs fields or sand dunes in L.A. He’s on the field doing position drills. He works out all day. His alarm is set to do 100 push-ups every hour on the hour. He will be at restaurants, or at dinner or somewhere, and his alarm will go off, and he’ll be like, ‘Hey, sorry, don’t mind this’, and he’ll keep talking while doing the push-ups. He’s a workout freak.”

Gaines can’t understand where the narratives are coming from, since he knows for a personal fact that they are indeed false.

When asked about where the rumors started, Gaines told Jet X, “I have no idea where this stuff spewed from. Again, my personal opinion, just being real, I think all this stuff came from… there isn’t a quarterback controversy in this year’s draft, there isn’t a lot of sexy players, and so I guess the easiest thing to do was ya know, ‘I heard this, I heard that’, and somebody heard it and somebody ran with it.

“I talk to teams all the time. I’ve (trained) five number one overall picks. Five. You know what I mean? I talk to teams all the time. I’ve never heard nobody question his work ethic or his character ever.”

According to Gaines, the teams he’s spoken with aren’t echoing the media’s thoughts on Thibodeaux, giving further reason to doubt the validity of the rumors.

It seems highly unlikely that Kayvon Thibodeaux falls within the New York Jets‘ reach at fourth overall, but if he does, fans should be over the moon.

New York would have the chance to select a gifted athlete that’s been bred for greatness since he was a high-school sophomore, with an All-Pro work ethic to match. His larger-than-life personality will fit right in with the bright lights of Broadway, and his dominance on the field will make Jets head coach Robert Saleh ooze with excitement.

Every NFL offseason is littered with rumors, most of which are usually misinformation leaked by teams to confuse the rest of the league. Claims of Kayvon Thibodeaux being lazy, selfish, or a poor worker are just more examples of those team-spread rumors.

To learn more about Travelle Gaines and his training, or Kayvon Thibodeaux’s charity foundation, visit the links below.



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Andrew Golden is a film analyst for Jets X-Factor with a focus on the NFL Draft, prospect evaluations and breaking down scheme fits. He also co-hosts the Oklahoma Drill Podcast with Vitor Paiva and Matt Mauro. Email: agoldenjets[at]gmail.com
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Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 year ago

Hutchenson seems to be the one no brainer. If, considering he is not a QB and the top 5 maybe even top 10 have changed often.
On draft day if we can get pick 1 or 2 wherever Hutchinson goes could we get for for one of our 2nd round players, should we do it?
I think it’s a no brainer!

1 year ago

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that one can find an advocate for any player, especially during draft season. Jordan Palmer spent years talking up Sam Darnold only for Josh Allen to surpass Darnold as a QB. And I can’t imagine any personal trainer talking down about the talents and abilities of any player he/she is training. It’s just not good business to be that honest when given the opportunity to promote your services.

1 year ago

I’m not a NFL scout, what I saw in 2 HUGE games against Oregon, one for the PAC 12 regular season championship and the other actually was the conference championship was a soft player. If you watch those games and someone said, “two of the defensive players in this game could be top 10 draft picks, tell me which players they are,” you’d say “Devin Lloyd.” Then say, “I’m not sure who the other guy is.” I didn’t see any game changing plays in the biggest games of his final year. He may very well be working out 3 times a day, and I think it’s awesome that he’s opening a school and doing great work in his neighborhood but I didn’t see a guy on the field that sent me “over the moon.” The Jets need an all around DE, including someone solid against the run, AND a guy who will make big game changing plays in the most important moments. I have watched a lot of Oregon football, he’s not the guy I would like them to draft. This is not an attack on his character, work ethic, attitude or how important the game is to him, I just think there are better options. I could be wrong. If the Jets draft him, I hope I am.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

Just seems like whenever we take a guy like this he’s a bum. That’s it. Too much history with question guys. Just forget him.