Who Succeeds Mariota?

Elite quarterbacks don’t grow on trees.  Look across the college football landscape and ask yourself, “What QB would I die to have?”  For me, there aren’t many.

My utterly and completely unbiased opinion wants Marcus Mariota first without a doubt.  Second, I would choose Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville.  Outside of that, I could really only move a muscle for Braxton Miller and Johnny Manziel, both of which are far behind Mariota or Bridgewater.

We have an all-universe playmaker in Marcus Mariota, and while I am completely confident in the guys we have behind him, none of them have emerged the way #8 did after his redshirt year.

A go-to receiver like Huff will ease the transition for Mariota's successor.

Photo by Gary Breedlove Photography

A go-to receiver like Huff will ease the transition for Mariota’s successor.

Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie appear to have the inside track as Mariota’s replacement, but in a year those two will have at least two more guys to compete with.  Damion Hobbs, a Houston, Texas native, will be on campus this summer and recent Oregon pledge, Morgan Mahalak, from the Bay Area will be on campus next year.

We saw in last year’s spring battle as Marcus’ talent and ability overwhelmed Bryan Bennett’s experience in the system.  The coaches have no problem going with the guy that will WIN, even if there are some growing pains.

Mariota is draft eligible for the 2014 NFL draft, and whether or not Duck fans are ready for him to leave, we at least need to prepare ourselves for the possibility.

Lockie has overcome adversity for years.

Photo by Gary Breedlove

Lockie has overcome adversity for years.

Believe it or not, the sky won’t fall when he leaves – this year or next – just like it didn’t when we lost Dixon, Masoli, and Thomas.  Oregon football will move on.

Post spring game, everyone has penciled JakeRod in as the #2.  Helllloooooo?!  IF Mariota declares next year, that still gives more than 17 months until a new starting quarterback will be named.  Oregon will wait until week one to announce a starter, so predicting who will succeed Marcus is ridiculous when we are potentially two and a half years from that day.

That said, Oregon has several unique quarterbacks on its roster that possess extremely different talents.

Jake Rodrigues – aka Brunette Barkley – is a 6-foot-3, 215 pound redshirt freshman quarterback with a solid, muscled frame.  Coming off a season ending foot injury his senior year of high school, J-Rod was limited most of the year while recovering from surgery.

Jake Rodrigues is an Elite 11 combine alumni.

Photo by Gary Breedlove

Jake Rodrigues is an Elite 11 combine alumni.

Rodrigues is a pro-style quarterback with serious running capabilities – Just what the coaches look for.  He’s no 4.4 guy like our current starter, and actually I see a lot of Manziel in his running.  The difference between the two is that Rodrigues stays in the pocket.

Jeff Lockie is also a redshirt freshman from northern California, and is underrated.  Although he’s not causing anyone to drool over his skill set (yet), let’s not overlook the fact that Lockie was offensive MVP of a league which included 4-star recruits Zach Cline and Bart Houston.  Cline signed with Cal, Houston with Nebraska, and both were rated light years ahead of a player who was chosen as MVP of their league… twice.

Lockie is an interesting option because he does not fit the mold of the stereotypical Oregon quarterback.  A beautiful throwing motion and plenty of time to fill into his body makes Lockie a threat for the starting job.

Damion Hobbs is the lone QB the Ducks who signed with the Ducks this February.  Another player Oregon entered the recruiting scene with late in the game, Hobbs is the most physical of the signal-callers on the roster.  Maybe overshadowed by his lack of polish, Hobbs is a nightmare with the ball in his hands, running low and hard like a 6′ 2″ Masoli.

Mariota is a potential top-5 pick in the NFL draft.

Photo by Gary Breedlove

Mariota is a potential top-5 pick in the NFL draft.

It will be hard to evaluate where Hobbs will stand in the future position battle because he is still in high school.  When reports leak out of the Moshovsky Center walls – as they did with Chance Allen and Reggie Daniels last year – it will be much easier to gauge Hobbs’ progression and potential.

Morgan Mahalak is going to be under my microscope for the next 12 months; not because I am skeptical of whether or not he is good, but I want to know just how good he is.

The last time Oregon offered a quarterback before they started a varsity game, that man was the first freshman in decades to start for the Ducks.  Mahalak was only the second quarterback offered in this recruiting cycle behind Clemson commit and #1 ranked QB, Deshaun Watson.

A 6-foot-3, 180 pound QB out of Marin Catholic, Mahalak must maintain everything our staff loves in a field-general to offer him this early in the game.  Star ratings are nailed into our heads as a judge of talent, and an unranked/3-star John Doe has made a name for himself more than once in college football.  Jeff Saturday, Adam Vinatieri and Arian Foster a just a few un-drafted players to make a splash in the NFL.

It remains to be seen if Mariota will declare next year and who will separate themselves from the pack.  One thing that is set in stone, the Ducks will won’t lose altitude when Mariota decides to leave.

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