Every Oregon Duck fan knows his name. Soon, the rest of the country will as well. In his freshman season, he cemented himself as the true facilitator and leader of the high-flying Ducks offense. Mariota became the Ducks’ first freshman starter at quarterback since Danny O’Neil in 1991 and capped the regular season by being voted by his teammates as the team’s Most Outstanding Player. More than a standard dual threat quarterback, Mariota possesses the rare ability of being very efficient with the ball in his hands. He finished seventh this last season in pass efficiency. A glimpse into his final 2012 numbers includes a completion percentage of 68.5, 32 passing touchdowns, and 752 yards rushing. As a freshman!
With Chip Kelly gone and Kenjon Barner headed to the NFL, Marcus Mariota will have more of the workload to bear next season. However, more burden brings along more opportunities to shine for a group of voters that expect the Ducks to take a step back next season. Mariota should improve upon already stellar freshman season numbers and the Ducks will hang around national title contention, even without Kelly. Spread the word. Oregon football is here to stay and Marcus Mariota will be the key piece to their immediate success.