I bet you wish you were Marcus Mariota. I bet a lot of people wish they were Marcus Mariota. Heck, for a while there I wished I was Marcus Mariota. I mean, what’s not to like? The starting quarterback for a top tier football program that’s sponsored by Nike, a future first round pick in the NFL, millions of dollars in contracts and advertising agreements only a few months away… life must be pretty good, right? I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that it isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside. To get to the point where Marcus is in his career, one has to work not just in practices, but outside as well. Mariota doesn’t just show up on Saturday, throw a few touchdowns, and then go home and rest up for next weekend. He spends hours every day studying film, running routes after practice with his receivers, and conditioning to better himself, and better our Ducks’ chance of winning.
He’s seen the columnists predicting him to be the No. 1 pick. He’s seen the ‘Suck for the Duck’ signs that Tennessee Titans fans have been holding at games. When asked about how he’s handling all the fame and notoriety he said, “It’s pretty surreal. It’s humbling to hear people talk about you like that.”
He knows what’s coming, but that’s not what he’s focused on right now. Right now, all he cares about is guiding Oregon to that oh so elusive BCS title game, and he knows it starts this Saturday with a bounce-back win against UCLA. He also knows it starts with him. Even though he’s playing with a young offense, it’s up to him to make sure everyone is on the same page. Because of just that reason, he said, ”We’ve gone through a week of practice of over-communicating.” But Mariota knows UCLA is frantically preparing themselves for this week’s matchup too.
“UCLA is gonna come in, and they’re going to be ready to play. Those guys are going to be really motivated.” He’s right, too. Oregon isn’t the only team that’s playing to keep its title hopes alive. UCLA’s title hopes and Brett Hundley’s NFL stock also hang in the balance of this game.
But what does Marcus think of Hundley? ”He’s a good guy, he’s very nice,” he said. Mariota and Hundley spent time together at the Manning QB camp, where the two bonded. Mariota didn’t have a bad word to say about the guy, even though he’s maybe the most intense competition he’s ever faced. Hundley is a conference rival and another star prospect, yet Mariota insisted that the two have no bad blood.
But don’t believe just for one second that he’s perfect. There’s one thing that Mariota can’t stand. “I don’t like spiders,” he said. So, as long as UCLA’s game plan doesn’t involve giant spiders, I think he’ll be okay on Saturday.
Top Photo from Craig Strobeck