Eugene, OR, United States (4E Sports) – Quarterback Marcus Mariota will not join the 2014 NFL draft to return for his junior season at Oregon, which will now be favored to win the Pac-12 in 2014.
The dual return of Mariota and Hroniss Grasu, perhaps the nation’s top center, means the prime movers of Oregon’s offense will be back in 2014.
Oregon also looks like it will welcome back eight starters, a calculation that doesn’t include DAT or RB Byron Marshall, the Ducks leading rusher.
Experts say Mariota almost certainly would have been an early first-round selection in the NFL draft and should again be among the early favorites for the Heisman Trophy in 2014.
Mariota ranks second nationally behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston with a 90.1 Total QBR and is third on the team with 582 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries.
A first-team All-Pac-12 selection for the second straight year, Mariota has completed 227 of 360 attempts for 3,412 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. He set a Pac-12 record from the end of last season into this year by attempting a steak 353 passes without an interception, which ended against Arizona on Nov. 23.
In two seasons, Mariota has 6,089 passing yards, 77 total touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. His streak of 25 games with at least one TD pass is third-longest in the nation.
Oregon completed the regular season with a 10-2 record (7-2 Pac-12 North) — the sixth consecutive 10-win season for the Ducks.