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Heisman Trophy Goes to UO Quarterback Marcus MariotaRob Moseley special to Salem-News.com
Mariota is the first ever Heisman Winner from the University of Oregon
(GoDucks.com / NEW YORK) - The most celebrated individual season in Oregon football history received an historic exclamation point Saturday, as junior quarterback Marcus Mariota was awarded the Heisman Trophy for the 2014 college football season.
Mariota became the first Heisman winner in UO history, and the first from the Pacific Northwest since Terry Baker of Oregon State in 1962. The honor capped a postseason awards week in which Mariota won four national player of the year honors and two quarterback awards, making this by far the most decorated season ever for a Duck.
"I'm humbled to be standing here today and honored by this award," Mariota said upon receiving the award at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan.
"Thank you Heisman Trust for making this night possible. Everything you do has made so many dreams come true...Thank you to the University of Oregon for the education and support.
"Thank you to the community of Eugene, for the hospitality and allowing me to meet wonderful people like Phil Knight. Phil and Penny, thank you for all your contributions to the university. And to Duck fans everywhere, thank you."
Mariota beat out fellow Heisman finalists Amari Cooper of Alabama and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin for the trophy.
His 2,543 overall points was the second-most among Heisman winners behind O.J. Simpson (2,853).
Mariota had 90.9 percent of the total possible points, second-most ever in Heisman history (Troy Smith, 91.9).
"This is just a watershed moment, not only for the program but the University of Oregon as a whole," athletic director Rob Mullens said.
"It's just been an incredible week: Our coach (Mike Bellotti) goes into the hall of fame, and then Thursday night to have Ifo Ekpre-Olomu be a (Thorpe Award) finalist and to have Marcus basically sweep every award he was nominated for — and then on top of that to have a person of his high character represent us — speaks volumes for our coaches, for our team, for our institution."
Considered a Heisman favorite before a knee injury derailed his sophomore campaign in 2013, Mariota led the Ducks to an 11-1 regular season as a junior.
Oregon went on to beat Arizona for the Pac-12 title behind five Mariota touchdowns, clinching a spot for the Ducks in the College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against Florida State and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Mariota this season already has set Pac-12 Conference records for total touchdowns (53) and total offense (4,452 yards), and he's on pace to shatter the single-season record for pass efficiency with his current rating of 186.34.
Mariota is the first Heisman winner to be born in Hawaii, and the first of Polynesian descent. He was the third UO Heisman finalist, following Joey Harrington, who finished fourth in 2001, and LaMichael James, who was third in 2010.
"We've been fortunate to enjoy a number of incredible successes, but the iconic nature of the Heisman Trophy, and what it stands for, what it means, really cements that Oregon football is among the elite," Mullens said.
"And for us to have the model student-athlete be the first representative of the University of Oregon to win that trophy makes it extra special."
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