The Needle in the Haystack

 Copyright-Andrew Shurtleff

High school football has become one of the most competitive realms of amateur sports in the entire nation.  Even ESPN recognizes the potential entertainment value that high school football offers, which is why in recent years they’ve begun showing live games on occasion to test the market. indicates that there are 16,047 high school football teams in the nation, and an average of 50 players on a single team.  If I did my math correctly, that’s 802,350 high school kids playing the game.  Many of these kids have aspirations to make it to the big leagues one day, but before they can get there they must go through the beautiful pit stop known as “College Football.”

Marcus Leading The Way On And Off The Field

Craig Strobeck

Marcus Mariota leading the way — on and off the field.

So why am I bringing all of this information to your attention?  Let me explain with two words: Marcus Mariota.  Out of the 802,350 high school football players in the nation, the Ducks were lucky enough to: 1) find the gem, and 2) secure it for themselves.

Marcus Mariota is not someone you take for granted.  There are many great athletes in the nation, that’s obvious.  However, Marcus is more than just a great athlete, he’s a great human being, which is a characteristic we tend to forget with all of the immaturity and selfishness surrounding the world of sports.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet Marcus, and when I say “lucky” I mean it in every sense of the word.  Marcus and I take the same classes because we are in similar majors.  From first hand experience, I can tell you that Mariota is the real deal. Not only is he a leader in the Heisman race, he’s a leader in life.  A modest, sincere, good hearted, intelligent young man is what the Oregon Ducks have been blessed with.  If he hates anything in this world – which is only one thing – it’s to be approached about his football life, and can you blame him?  He sees himself more on t-shirts, billboards, and posters than he does in the mirror! He’s obviously Super Mariota on the field, but off the field, he just wants to be one of us.

Marcus is, in fact, the prime example of a Needle in the Haystack.

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