The University of Oregon released a statement Tuesday that redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota would return to school for his junior year and pass on early entry to the 2014 NFL draft for at least one more season, per Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com.
Mariota is a fascinating prospect, due in large part to his tremendous athleticism. He was evolving quickly as a passer over the course of the season, which really opened eyes. Each week has looked as if he had a little better grasp of the subtle nuance of playing quarterback, which made him even more dangerous.
If he could be worked into an NFL-college hybrid offense, his lively arm would balance with his remarkable speed and athleticism quite well.
This season has in no way gone the way Mariota had hoped. Entering the season, thoughts of a Heisman Trophy, a BCS National Championship and a first-round selection were all realistic. Although it was never confirmed, it appeared that Mariota suffered a knee sprain clear back in October against UCLA. While he never missed a start, the dynamic runner everyone had watched all season was gone.
For a quarterback who depends on being able to use his arms and his legs to beat a defense, when half of that is taken away, it is difficult to pick up the slack on the run with the other.
Did Marcus Mariota make a mistake returning to school?
College football fans don't always appreciate just what a special talent and student athlete Mariota is. His skill players are elevated by his play but, compared to the other top teams in the country, have been rather pedestrian. The amount of growth Mariota showed this season rivaled that of any quarterback in the country.
Whenever there is news like this, one place to look for insight and opinion is Twitter. Once news started to spread, everyone had something to say about Mariota's decision. Here are some of the highlights from Twitter on the Mariota decision.
New York Post NFL writer Bart Hubbuch had this to say about it:
Marcus Mariota staying at Oregon is no surprise. Nike obviously pays better, and have you seen that locker room?— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) December 3, 2013
ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad shared this about Mariota:
Marcus Mariota's decision not about Heisman or draft stock or this QB class. Guy loves college and wants degree. Think Andrew Luck.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 3, 2013
Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller looking ahead to next season:
Per the Univ. of Oregon, Marcus Mariota will return to school next season and not enter the NFL Draft. He’ll be my No. 1 prospect for 2015— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 3, 2013
And finally, NFL.com writer Albert Breer shared this:
Bottom line: Marcus Mariota absolutely would've contended to be the top QB taken. Couple evaluators I talked to compared him to Kaepernick.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 3, 2013
The bottom line is, this is a young man who has chosen to enjoy the college experience for another year. College football fans everywhere will be able to celebrate knowing one of the best and brightest will be lighting up Saturdays again next fall.