Oregon Football 2012: Marcus Mariota-Darron Thomas Parallels Are Eerie

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterAugust 24, 2012

Jan 2, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas (5), left, and coach Chip Kelly react after the 2012 Rose Bowl game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl. Oregon defeated Wisconsin 45-38. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Chip Kelly has picked his starter for the 2012 season and he's riding with the freshman. As Aaron Fentress from The Oregonian tweeted, Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman from Hawaii, will be the starter for the Ducks. 

The Oregon Ducks QB competitoin is over with Marcus Mariota being named the starter. oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ss…

— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) August 24, 2012

For some folks, this is a surprise. For those of us who have been paying attention to the nation's best quarterback battle, this is no surprise. Both Bryan Bennett and Mariota were dueling to be the leader of this offense, and ultimately the high-ceiling young gunner won out. 

Kelly, for the second time in three seasons, picked the bright future over the guy who many people expected to start come season's end the year before. First, it was Darron Thomas, now it is Marcus Mariota; and Mariota has some tremendous shoes to fill from a "first-year starter" standpoint.

It is Darron Thomas who helped get the Ducks to their first-ever BCS championship game appearance. It is Darron Thomas who helped guide them to an undefeated regular season. 

Now, Marcus Mariota is looking to do the same.

Thomas had LaMichael James. Mariota has Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. While the spotlight will be on the running backs and skill guys early, Mariota can grow into his role of moving the ball down the field with his arms and legs, much like Thomas was able to do in that magical 2010 season in which Oregon went to the BCS title game.

The biggest difference between each man's route to the title game is the No. 1 quarterback they face.

Thomas had to out-duel future No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck. Mariota will have to beat probable No. 1 pick Matt Barkley, possibly twice, to win a Pac-12 crown and be in line for a shot at the title. 

From a parallels standpoint, it is eerily similar to 2010. For Mariota's sake let's hope the end results are similar, albeit with one major difference: He puts the Ducks over the top in the title game, something Darron Thomas could not do.