8 Things You Should Know About Hawai‘i’s Heisman Trophy-Winning Marcus Mariota

Saint Louis School graduate Marcus Mariota is college football’s most outstanding player.
Photo: Lance Tominaga

It seems like all of Hawai‘i cheered when Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy this weekend, making him college football’s most outstanding player. In honor of his jersey number, here are eight facts you should know about this local boy-turned-national sports hero.


1. He didn’t just win the Heisman, he owned it.

This past Saturday, Mariota captured the Heisman with 90.9 percent of all possible votes. In the 79-year history of the award, only 2006 recipient Troy Smith of Ohio State had a higher percentage (91.63 percent). Also, Mariota was named on 95.16 percent of the Heisman ballots – the highest of all time. (Shame on the other 4.84!)


2. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Mariota played football at Saint Louis School, but was largely an unknown because he sat behind All-State quarterback Jeremy Higgins. Mariota finally got to start at quarterback during his senior season and made the most of it, guiding his team to the state title.


3. The Duck was almost a Husky.

Credit Mark Helfrich, then Oregon’s offensive coordinator for discovering Mariota’s talents shortly before the player’s senior season at St. Louis. The Ducks immediately offered him a scholarship. While attending a Ducks camp in the summer of 2010, however, Mariota discovered that Oregon had already secured a pair of QB commitments–including some guy named Johnny Manziel–and briefly considered signing with Washington. But Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, reneged on his commitment and signed with Texas A&M, and the rest is history.


4. Even the enemy loves him.

Few college football rivalries are as intense as Oregon-Oregon State. No wonder their annual contest is dubbed “The Civil War.” But after Mariota won the Heisman, the Beavers placed a full-page ad in Sunday’s The Oregonian to congratulate him. Mariota really is that good a guy.


5. He’s not the first St. Louis quarterback to star at Oregon…

Remember Jeremiah Masoli? The rugged QB starred for the Crusaders his senior season after playing three years in California. Masoli went on to star at a junior college before signing with the Ducks, where he was named the team’s Most Outstanding Player in 2009. Mariota, in fact, grew up idolizing Masoli, who now plays for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.


6. …and he might not be the last.

St. Louis has a new stud at QB, and his name is Tua Tagovailoa. When he was in the fourth grade, Tagovailoa was attending a Crusaders football camp and wanted to compete with the older boys. That’s where he met a freshman named Marcus Mariota, who took a liking to the youngster. Recalled Tagovailoa to The Oregonian: “He would teach me. While everyone else said, ‘Get out of the way,’ Marcus would pull me aside. Just to get taught by him and him giving me attention I didn’t deserve, it was just awesome.” So far, Tagovailoa has scholarship offers from USC, UCLA, Hawai‘i and Texas Tech–and there’s little doubt Oregon will come calling as well. But everyone will have to wait. The kid’s just a sophomore.


7. NFL teams are playing “Suck for the Duck.”

It’s almost a certainty that Mariota will bypass his senior year and make himself available in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is considered a potential No. 1 draft pick, which will be made by the NFL franchise with the season’s worst record. As of now, it looks like the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at 2-12 with two games left) have the best shot at landing Mariota.


8. He’s still got work to do.

Heisman Trophy secured, Mariota now must lead Oregon in college football’s first-ever Division I playoffs. Next up: The Ducks take on last year’s national champs, the Florida State Seminoles, in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Good guy Mariota will face off against last year’s Heisman winner: the troubled-but-talented Jameis Winston.


Editor’s Note: Writer Lance Tominaga works for ESPN 1420, our sister company in the aio family of companies.