1. He has the inside track on Jameis Winston for the Heisman Trophy.
Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are both amazing quarterbacks -- the kind of talents that any school would be lucky to have once in a generation -- but Mariota has the upper hand on Winston as we hit the home stretch of the 2013 season. Not only does Mariota offer a running threat that the design of Florida State's offense doesn't allow Winston to match, but the Ducks are far more likely to be playing in meaningful, widely viewed games during the final weeks of the season.
Because of the severity with which Oregon blows out its opponents, Mariota has played in the fourth quarter in just three of the Ducks' eight games. But that hasn't prevented the redshirt sophomore from racking up 2,792 all-purpose yards and 29 total touchdowns, all the while throwing precisely zero interceptions. And with the stakes for Oregon getting higher and the opponents getting tougher (the Ducks face Arizona, Stanford, Oregon State, and will likely be playing in the Pac-12 championship game), Mariota will be playing deeper into games and will have a greater opportunity to pad his stat line and make an impression on Heisman voters.
2. He could be a top-10 NFL Draft pick.
He has been described as "better than Cam Newton," a combination of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Stanford head coach David Shaw, who will be coaching against Mariota and the Ducks on Thursday night, says that Mariota is the best quarterback in the country and compared the Oregon signal-caller to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. SB Nation's Mocking The Draft gives Mariota a first-round draft grade. ESPN's Todd McShay ranks Mariota as the second-best player in the 2014 draft class. That is, of course, assuming that Mariota decides to come out after this season.
Still not buying the hype? You probably will be after watching this video.
3. He has the respect of his teammates, his coaches and the referees. Yes, the referees.
Not only is Mariota a great quarterback and model teammate (he recently stopped by a teammate's apartment at 1 a.m. to cheer him up after a rough day), but he might have a career as a diplomat if the football thing doesn't work out. During Oregon's Oct. 26 game against UCLA, Bruin linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was delivering a number on Oregon players of questionable legality. After Zumwalt delivered a late hit out-of-bounds on Mariota, the OU quarterback would have been well within his rights to complain to the officials. Instead, he successfully lobbied the referees to not penalize UCLA's Zumwalt.
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