Marcus Mariota doesn’t turn 20 until October, but he’s never let his youth be an obstacle to success. His impeccable character and lack of off-field distractions can be credited to his upbringing in a traditional Hawaiian family; though he left the islands lacking the same bulk and physical stature that fellow Pacific-Islanders (like teammate Koa Ka’ai) are often known for.
Oregon fans shouldn’t be too concerned, for Mariota is under the masterful eye of strength & conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe. Undoubtedly, Radcliffe has Mariota on a weight training/injury prevention program to strengthen his ligaments and better-prepare his body for the punishment he’ll receive this year. It simply takes time for young athletes to put on quality muscle mass.
I would often see Mariota playing basketball or lifting weights at the Rec during winter term. It’s obvious he’s committed to fitness and enjoys being active. All of that activity is fine so long as he continues to take care of his body and watch his diet, because defenses will certainly place a target squarely on his #8 in 2013. Mariota’s no longer the freshman facilitator of Oregon’s offense, he is Oregon’s offense and opposing teams will be game planning around his strengths and weaknesses.
Defensive coordinators teach their players to hit the quarterback, in an option-offense, whenever possible (so long as it’s legal of course). That’s partially why critics say the option won’t last in the NFL, quarterbacks simply can’t take the punishment of 10-20 big hits every week. Let’s hope that Mariota’s body is an aid, and not an obstacle, as Oregon pursues a crystal football in 2013.