Despite being projected as a top 5 pick in the next NFL draft, Marcus Mariota proved he is good for his word, deciding to stay another season with Oregon in order to get his degree and maybe lead Oregon a little further than he or anyone else has been able to for the last couple of years.
In an NFL draft that should have been stocked with quarterbacks, Mariota might have been the most anticipated prospect. However, he has always promised that he won’t leave Oregon before completing his degree. It’s just rare to see an athlete give up the opportunity to make money and take some sort of risk in order to do the “right thing”.
There might be more to just education in this decision. Mariota might want to improve his draft stock and position himself as the unquestionable number one pick in the 2015 NFL draft, although if Jameis Winston comes out that year, it’s going to be tough in any case. Mariota and Oregon failed to win the Pac-12 for a second straight year, which means he might think he has one more achievement to mark with a check before he goes off to the pros. Oregon finished the regular season at 10-2, losing to Stanford for a second consecutive season and then blowing the huge opportunity they got after a Stanford loss by losing themselves in Arizona.
He threw for 3412 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions on his sophomore season (a redshirt freshman) and led all Pac-12 quarterbacks in completion percentage and yards per attempt. He was also third on his team with 582 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries, finishing third among Pac-12 QBs behind B.J. Denker and Brett Hundley.
Mariota is second in the nation, behind Winston from Florida State, with a total QBR of 90.1. His streak of 25 games with at least one TD pass is third-longest in the nation. And that’s not the only good news for Mariota and Oregon, as center Hroniss Grasu decided to stay for another season. Although it’s a bit too early to tell, it seems like Oregon, a team with six consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more, are heading into the first year of the College Football Playoffs as the favorites to win their conference.