As the 2013 college football season has (sadly) reached its midpoint, more and more attention is turning to a pair of three-letter acronyms: the BCS and NFL.
Marcus Mariota and his Oregon Ducks have positioned themselves for a run at the former. Conversely, many folks are beginning to think the quarterback should make a run at the latter following the end of the season.
Mariota’s 2013 season has been nothing short of spectacular and has placed him squarely on not only the Heisman radar, but on the NFL’s as well. In playing time this season that essentially amounts to 17 quarters in the Ducks’ first six games — he’s played into the fourth quarter just once, and past the halfway point (roughly) of the third quarter in only three games — Mariota has passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for another eight. He’s fifth in the country in passing efficiency — a 60.6 completion percentage is pushing that rating down — and sixth in total offense per game at 358.3, again in large part because he’s yet to play a full game.
Arguably the most impressive thing Mariota’s done this season is something that he actually hasn’t done: in his 165 attempts, he’s yet to throw an interception. Add in the fact that he has yet to lose a football — he fumbled once, vs. Tennessee, but recovered it — and Mariota hasn’t turned the ball over in 206 pass/run touches.
As Mariota is a third-year sophomore, he would be eligible for the NFL draft next April. A trio of respected NFL draft experts have Mariota going third-overall in their latest mock drafts, In his Monday Morning Quarterback posted yesterday, Peter King wrote that Mariota could be the No. 1-overall pick in the upcoming draft if he decides to come out.
As more and more NFL talk in connection to Mariota begins to surface, the player has not so unexpectedly brushed aside any rumblings of his leaving the Ducks, preferring to remain focused on the here and now and putting any conversations regarding an early leap to the professional level on the back-burner.
“My family and I have decided to hold off on these conversations until after the season,” Mariota told John Canzano of 750-AM in Portland during a radio interview Monday. “We’re obviously going to put the pros and cons together, and we’re going to do what’s best for the family.
“At the same time, my education is important… I love Oregon. I love the community. We’ll decide when the time is right.”
Selfishly, we hope Mariota stays in Eugene for another two years. Realistically, no one could, or at least should, begrudge the talented young man if he decided to take said talent out of the non-paying collegiate game and ply his wares at the NFL level.
And if he truly does have the opportunity to go No. 1 overall? That could make the decision even more of a no-brainer than it already may be.