Morgan Mahalak, a 4-star dual-threat quarterback out of Greenbrae, Calif. is Oregon's quarterback of the future.
That's a lofty praise for a recruit who has yet to start a game at quarterback at the varsity level in high school.
Last season, Mahalak was the backup to Jared Goff, who committed to Cal during the 2013 recruiting cycle. Goff was a star quarterback for Marin Catholic, and he led the program to the CIF State D-III championship, according to Bob Rickert of oregonlive.com
Mahalak played wide receiver on that team, but now that Goff has moved on, it's time for the 4-star dual-threat to step into the starter's role.
In a recent phone interview with Bleacher Report, he appeared unfazed by what should be considered high expectations. After all, he's replacing a quarterback who threw for 3,692 yards and 40 touchdowns last season, according to Goff's 247Sports profile.
Asked what he was looking forward to in his first year as a starter, Mahalak said, "Having fun with my friends. The opportunity to go back to the state championship and try to win. No pressure, just gonna have fun."
Such an approach is great to hear from a quarterback recruit who one day will be charged with trying to replace Marcus Mariota, who also didn't make a varsity start at QB until his senior year in high school, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.
Mahalak said Helfrich recruited him when he was the offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. "I was his prime target, I guess. Looking back he said I was their guy way back then, which was cool to hear."And Mahalak's thoughts on Oregon's new coach?
"He's a regular guy. He happens to be friends with my uncle and his kids go to my aunt's school. I love coach Helfrich. It definitely made the decision easier knowing he was the head coach."
Expectations should be high for Mahalak heading into his senior season. He's 6'3'', 190 pounds and is the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite.
He has a big arm and throws a good spiral. His intermediate throws are strong and accurate, and his footwork is crisp. Mahalak has a great deep ball that features touch and accuracy, and he does a good job of leading his receivers.
Mahalak is most dangerous, however, because of his ability to run.
He's shifty with great speed and long strides, and his footwork allows him to be elusive. He can change direction quickly and make defenders miss, but he also runs with strength and forward lean, so he'll hit the hole and get upfield quickly.
He's a powerful runner even though he's only 190 pounds, and that's a skill-set that will translate to the college level—especially in Oregon's offense.
Asked why he decided to commit to the Ducks, Mahalak claimed it was an easy choice. "The program speaks for itself, I've been a Ducks fan all my life. I have family there. Obviously the program is second to none, with all the things they have to offer there. It was kind of an easy decision for me."
Mahalak's transition to starting quarterback for Marin Catholic should be just as easy, and the hype surrounding his commitment to the Ducks will only increase once he gets that starting year under his belt.
It will be interesting to see if he's talented enough to live up to the expectations set by the star quarterback before him, both at Marin Catholic and at Oregon.