January 14, 2015
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota has declared his eligibility for the NFL draft.
The Ducks quarterback announced on Oregon's website on Wednesday that he would forgo his senior season. The school said he filed paperwork on Wednesday, a day before the NFL deadline.
"I will miss being with my teammates," he said in a statement. "Being a part of this team was something special that I will always treasure."
He is expected to be a high first-round pick in the draft.
Mariota was the humble leader of Oregon's high-flying offense. The 13-2 Ducks defeated Florida State in the Rose Bowl in college football's first playoffs, but fell 42-20 to Ohio State in Monday night's national championship game.
Mariota won every major award he qualified for, starting with the Heisman Trophy, as well as AP Player of the Year and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. He set a conference record for most touchdowns in a single season with 58; 42 via pass, 15 on the run and a touchdown catch.
His passing touchdowns set a Pac-12 single-season record. He also set the conference's career mark for career touchdowns with 136.
He threw at least one touchdown pass in all 41 college games he played in at Oregon, starting in every one of his appearances. And he's one of just four quarterbacks in FBS history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 in his career.
"It's been an honor to watch Marcus develop over the last four years, and I'm excited to see what his future holds," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement. "He's given this program everything we could have asked, and he'll be the standard by which others are judged. Mahalo."
Led by Mariota, Oregon finished No. 2 in this season's final AP rankings. Overall, the Ducks ranked third in the nation in total offense with an average of 547 yards per game. The Ducks' passing offense under Mariota was ranked 10th nationally with an average of 312.5 yards a game. Mariota's passer efficiency rating (181.7) topped the nation.
Mariota was known for his steady demeanor from the start. Off the field, he was shy and unassuming, but he stayed on the field following every game to shake hands and pose for pictures.
Mariota said before Monday's season finale that he would trade his Heisman for a national championship, but it wasn't to be. In the final game he threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
"I mean it hurts," he said afterward. "You put so much work, you put so much effort into the year and it's tough. It's tough to go out with a loss."