“He might be the next…” Seriously?

Will the next Oregon starting quarterback give us a preview of his own stardom in the Spring Game following in the career of Marcus Mariota?!

Now that National Signing Day is over, the voices will gradually increase in both volume and number throughout every college football program with one of the most overused phrases: “He might be the next (insert name of former great player at the respective school).”


One of my favorite quotes, which has been attributed to Oscar Wilde, is: ”Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Perhaps it also why I have never been a jersey guy.  Meaning I have never owned a piece of clothing with someone else’s name on the back of it.

Will Jeff Lockie be able to win the starting quarterback position and establish his own credentials without needless comparisons to his predecessor?

Kevin Cline

Jeff Lockie will compete to make a name for himself as Oregon QB.

Will Jeff Lockie be able to win the starting quarterback position and establish his own credentials without needless comparisons to his predecessor?

While I can grudgingly accept “He reminds many of (insert name of former player)…” as it might pertain to physical size, decision-making, or character, I have a few key issues with the phrase “He might be the next…”

For example, Does anyone believe comparing Dan Fouts to Marcus Mariota is “fair?”  In the Fouts era, there were no scholarship limitations.  USC had much more money than the University of Oregon to offer scholarships.  Hence they could “afford” to have more quality players.

Further, sometimes rule changes make the game different from one generation of players to another.  It is no secret that at both the college and pro levels, recent rule changes have favored the offense over the defense.

Styles of play also change from one generation to the next. Anyone remember when powerhouse teams ran the Wishbone offense?

The phrase will also create an unreasonable expectation of the person who is supposed to follow in the footsteps of the previous legend.  I remember growing up hearing multiple times, “Pity the head basketball coach at UCLA who follows John Wooden!  It is only a matter of time until we are going to hear or read about some Oregon recruit, “He might be the next Marcus Mariota!” Imagine trying to live up to that as an eighteen year-old who has never played a down of college football.

Morgan Mahalak will be part of what is expected to be a spirited competition at the quarterback position next season.

Kevin Cline

Morgan Mahalak will be part of what is expected to be a spirited competition at the quarterback position next season.

But probably more than anything else, I often feel players who are not perceived as “stars” get left out of the discussion when this phrase is used, and unfairly so.

In recent Oregon Duck history I think there is no better example than former quarterback Darron Thomas. Since he left Oregon, how often have your heard or read, “He might be the next Darron Thomas?” How often do you think you will hear or read that in the future?

Darron Thomas is in a class of one, being the only quarterback in the history of football at Oregon to have an undefeated regular season.  It took Marcus Mariota three tries just to beat Stanford AND win the Pac-12 North Division.  Thomas did both in his first year as a starter!

He finished his career at Oregon with a 24-3 record as a starter; two Pac-12 Championships, and led the team to a close but painful loss to Auburn in the National Championship Game on a last second field goal.  In that game Oregon set a BCS Championship Game record for team passing yards (374).

The following year in the Rose Bowl, Thomas threw for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win over Wisconsin.

It has been duly noted that, in the most recent Super Bowl, not one starter for either the Seahawks or the Patriots was a 5-star high school recruit.  Not one!  Russell Wilson was a 2-star recruit when he signed with North Carolina State.  Oregon stars Marcus Mariota, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner were all 3-star recruits!

How nice it would be if, instead of comparing current players to former players under the guise of “He might be the next…” we could simply say, “He is going to be the first (insert player’s own name)!”


Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Dave Kensler

Dave Kensler

I grew up in Eugene beginning in the sixth grade. Graduated from South Eugene High School in 1973 and the University of Oregon in 1977 with a BS in Journalism. My father was on the UO faculty(Architecture and Allied Arts School) and I have been a life long Duck fan! While my present work is that of being a tennis teaching professional, I continue use my college degree in a wide assortment of writing efforts and look forward to doing so with FishDuck!


    Well Dave I was beginning to think I was one of the only Grey beards around on most of the web sites about our Duck’s so I will easily concede knowledge to you about our Ducks. I’m not saying your correct about everything but you do know Duck Sports. Adams W/O a doubt should easily win the starting spot and if he doesn’t then either Morgan Mahalak or Travis Waller has unbelievable talents and I’m sure both do but are just not ready yet. Eastern Washington’s Coach did make a good question about why this staff has not gotten more Talent behind the NO.1 guy at QB because that’s really 1 of the positions on this team where we don’t have a clear NO.2 or 3 behind the starting QB. Makes you wonder about the staff if they really believed they had someone good enough to come in and keep the Mazerati running clean? I like Jeff Lockie but watching him play doesn’t quite keep you garnering much confidence in the guy as I thing even Morgan would beat him out for the Starting position. That’s just my opinion and whether that’s the Ducks Staff problem of not Coachiong them up or what we just don’t know. When Lockie did come in for clean up they should of let him come in and run the offense like the score was tied because even he needs confidence to win at this level. Ohio St beat us with a 3rd string QB which still burns inside that Pellum didn’t have a better Game plan for the biggest game of the season. Thanks Dave for all the good articles.

  • worldwidewebfoot

    Darron Thomas was a great player for Oregon. Go watch the Rose Bowl 2012 against Wisconsin again. Darron went head to head with Russell Wilson, matched him score for score in the first half and beat him in the second half. Darron put up better numbers as well. In future I hope to see Darron introduced at half time often and to great applause. On the big screen they can show his Rose Bowl pass to Barner for a TD. Or the multiple bullet passes to Tuinei that kept drives alive. Great stuff.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      darron thomas was a very good college QB but i would not quite use the word great to describe him. lamichael james was the straw that stirred the ducks drink in those years. thomas had to be able to throw just well enough so that other teams couldnt stack the box on LMJ….and most of the time he got it done. his throwing mechanics were flawed though. he had a tendancy to release the ball just a fraction of a second too late which often caused the ball to sail on him. thomas didnt have the passing numbers, his technique was flawed but still he got things done when the chips were on the line.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    how did jeff lockie beat out jrod? lockie was not a risk taker and jrod was. jrod did it to himself. oregon coaches do not like risk takers. they like guys who throw 4 interceptions a season like you know who. bottom line though? lockie will not be able to beat out vernon adams by being the “im not a risk taker give me the job by default guy” like he did to get the backup spot.

  • Candy Neville

    Darron Thomas was one of my all time favorite Ducks. I’d love to see him on the pros.