Quarterback Marcus Mariota Will Forgo 2014 NFL Draft, Return to Oregon Ducks

The Oregon Ducks will be among the favorites to win the Pac-12 conference and the national championship next season with the return of starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has decided to stay in school and not declare for the 2014 NFL draft.

He announced his decision on Tuesday.

Mariota was one of the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy entering the Ducks’ Nov. 7 matchup against the rival Stanford Cardinal, which was a 26-20 loss that ruined Oregon’s chances of playing in the BCS title game. The Ducks were also upset in stunning fashion to Arizona on Nov. 23 when they lost 42-16 and Mariota threw two interceptions.

These two defeats significantly weakened Mariota’s resume for the Heisman, but he didn’t have a poor 2013 season and made positive strides as a sophomore.

He threw for a career-high 3,412 yards, and added 30 touchdowns. The Honolulu native also ran for 582 yards and nine touchdowns on 7.2 yards per carry. Mariota tallied at least one passing touchdown in every game this season and didn’t throw an interception until Oregon’s 11th game.

Mariota was expected to be a first-round pick if he entered the 2014 NFL draft, and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke had him going No. 2 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in his latest mock draft. Staying in school is a bit of a risk for the Oregon quarterback, but another year in college will help him fine-tune his skill set so he’s fully prepared for the jump to the pros.

Yardbarker

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