The Oregon Ducks have a special athleteat the quarterback position.Twenty-one year oldMarcus Mariota (pronouncedMARR-EE-OHH-TAH) is widely suspectedto be the number-one overall pick if he decides to forego his senior season forthe NFL Draft comeApril.
And after an impressive junior campaign with over 3,400 yards passing, 36 touchdowns and two interceptions (plus over 600 yards rushing with 11 scores on the ground), it’s safe to say he’s the Heisman frontrunner on a team headed to the first-ever College Football Playoffs.
Of course, he’ll need to handle some business against Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference Championship game tonight, but considering his uncanny ability to rise in crucial moments, it should be no problem.
If there’s one thing that separates Mariota from any other NCAA star in the country, it’s his remarkably humble attitude. But some scouts have tried to spin that humility as a weakness inhis game.
According to a Sports Illustrated report, one NFL expert said,
He’s got all the physical talent in the world.He’s a good kid, too. You don’t have to worry about him off the field. All you’ve got to worry about, is he too nice?
Considering Marcus is from Hawaii and ishalf Samoan, his calm demeanor is a genetic trait thatcomes from a long tradition of successful Polynesian football players all who play the game with a certain style.
Off the field, Polynesiansare some of the most gentle and caring people in the world. But during the game, they are fierce and athletically gifted competitors who don’t stop until the whistle’s blown.
Born in Honolulu in 1993, Mariota grew up idolizing local star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli who played at nearby St. Louis High School and went on to star for Oregon from 2008 to 2009.
Mariota went on to attend the same high school as his idol, but he didn’t earn the chance to start until his senior year.
During that season, he led his team to an 11-1 record, wona state title and was ultimately recruited by Chip Kelly and his staff to play for the Ducks.
At one point, both Mariota and Johnny Manziel had committed to Oregon before the now Cleveland Brown decided to stay home and attend Texas A&M.
Who would have won that starting job is now one of the biggest what-if questions in college football.
Now, as one of the most excitingpro prospects in recent years, Mariota has a skillset sure to interest many teams looking for a franchise quarterback.
At 6’4, he stands tall in the pocket. Some would even compare his presence to Colin Kaepernick.
However, there’s one thing that separates the two, and that’s the Oregon star’sexceptionalability to make the right reads.
Mariota goes through his progressions in the pocket better than some starting quarterbacks in the NFL today, and of course, if all else fails,he can break outside using his elite speed.
He’s a smart player who rarely makes any mistakes (hence the two interceptions on the season), and most importantly, he understands the urgencyof getting the ball to his most effective playmakers.
Just check out the pass below – that’s a pro arm if I’ve ever seen one:
If there is one knock on his game, it’s that he needs to bulk up in order to sustain some of the hits at the next level. At the same time, his humble nature in the huddle might scare off scouts looking for an outspoken leader.
In an ESPN interview, that’s something Mariota recognizes,
That’s something that we’ve kind of talked about for a few years now in regard to my leadership and how I can use my voice as an influential tool. For the most part it was me being more assertive. I really feel that I’ve come a long way in that sense.
The thing about Marcus Mariota is he’s actually an exceptional leader. He’s a throwback kind of guywho lets his play do the talking and knows how to keep a sense of calm for his teammates in high-pressure situations.
He’s the backbone of the team and while he’s not out there pumping up the line, his sense of purposeon the field is unlike anything we’ve seen in quite some time.
If he walks away with the Heisman Trophy come December 13, he will be the first Hawaiian-born player to bring college football’s most prestigious award to the island.
It would be an incrediblefeat for a kid who grew up nearly 5,000 miles away from New York (where the trophy is presented). But for Mariota, it’s just the next step inwhat should be a long and promising career in the NFL.
As for playing for the Jets, Marcus Mariota admittedhe would play his heart out in the Big Apple and Joe Namath definitely likes what he sees.
From what I’ve seen of Mariota is like what I’ve seen of Johnny Football.
He’s got something there, something that’s a little different, something that’s extra. They’re going to be around for a while because they have that sixth, seventh sense. These cats can feel it and they can get on it if they stay healthy.
But, for the sake of Mariota’s pro career, let’s just hopethe Jets go with Jameis.
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