By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
Few players in the NFL have the life story or the list of awards and accolades that Marcus Mariota has. Mariota, a Hawai’ian native, has one of the most inspirational and humbling stories in the NFL. His starts long before he ever put on an NFL uniform though.
Mariota was born on October 30th, 1993 in Honolulu, Hawai’i to Toa Mariota and Alana Deppe-Mariota. They did not have much, but they were determined from Day One to offer their sons all that they could in life. Mariota clearly remembers and spoke about it in an interview in 2015.
“Growing up, my parents made a lot of sacrifices for my brother and I to go to private school and to attend some of the football camps,” Mariota said in the interview. “They got through some hard times, but it was for me, and that’s what I’ve learned from them. I’m very grateful for that.”
Mariota did not get much-recruiting attention until his senior year of high school because he did not start for his team. His parents in his junior year, having faith in their sons’ ability to do better elected to sell their home overlooking the picturesque Diamond Head in Honolulu in order to pay for private school and be able to fund the trips for football camps.
In the summer before his senior year, he went Oregon’s football camp and really impressed Mark Helfrich, the offensive coordinator of the Ducks at the time. Helfrich was so impressed with Mariota, in fact, that he went to visit him in Honolulu to watch him in practice before his first varsity game.
He was again so impressed with what he said that he called head coach Chip Kelly and they offered him a scholarship before he ever played a down of varsity football.
In his senior year, Mariota really came on the scene and blew up. He led his team to the HHSAA Division 1 State Champion and won that game. He also won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Offensive Player of the Year, PrepStar Magazine All-West Region and 2010 Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year after the season.
He finished the year with 2,597 passing yards, 455 rushing yards, 39 combined touchdowns and only had 5 interceptions on the year.
At the national underclassman combine of 2010, he showed that he was a superior athlete attaining the camp’s “Fastest Man” and “Combine King” awards. When it came down to it, down to it, besides the Ducks, he was also recruited by the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, Memphis Tigers, Utah Utes, Oregon State Beavers, Washington Huskies, Arizona Wildcats, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
He was also recruited by three other schools. While several schools were interested, only the Ducks and Tigers offered him scholarships.
In his freshman year at Oregon, Mariota wasted no time making a name for himself. He passed for 2,677 yards, 32 touchdowns and only threw six interceptions. He also had a strong year on with his ground game rushing for 752 yards and another 5 touchdowns.
In his freshmen year alone, he was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 All-Conference first-team, Pac-12 Academic All-Conference honorable mention, Manning award finalist, team’s most outstanding player, and Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP. This was only the beginning of his collegiate accolades.
Mariota only seemed to excel more and more each year. In his sophomore year, Mariota did improve upon his stats but, fell short of the BCS National Championship game. Mariota also played much of the year hurt since he tore his MCL in the game against No. 6 Stanford Cardinal.
He did, however, get to the Alamo Bowl and was named the offensive MVP there, too. The Ducks defeated the Texas Longhorns 30-7 in that Alamo Bowl game.
His senior was a special year, but did not have the storybook ending that he had hoped for. Mariota accumulated more than 20 awards his senior year. None of them were are precious and esteemed as the Heisman Trophy that he won.
He won the Heisman in a landslide, winning with slightly more than 90 percent of the votes. Mariota was the first Oregon Duck and Hawai’i-born athlete to win the award.
Mariota led his Ducks on a march straight to the College Football Playoff National Championship game. His team slaughtered the Florida State Seminoles 59-20. In the game, he threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
He also rushed for another 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Yet again, he was named the MVP for the game. He and his Ducks looked towards the National Championship game with vigor and prowess.
The Ducks could not hold up in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, though. Mariota and his Ducks fell 42-20 in the last collegiate game of his career.
He finished his college career with 10,796 passing yard, 134 combined touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 2,237 rushing yards.
Mariota may go down as one of the best Ducks to have ever played on the field, but off the field, he is also regarded as one of the best people to have ever graced the Oregon campus. While on route to guiding his team to the College Football Playoff National Championship game, Mariota took time to regularly visit the Emerald Valley Boys & Girls Club.
He visited with the kids, gave them advice and overall gave them a positive role model to look up to. Scott Frost, Oregon’s offensive coordinator commented on Mariota actions.
“We didn’t ask him to do that, and we didn’t set that up — it’s just something he went out of his way to do,” said Frost in an interview in 2015. “I think he’s one of the few people that do those kinds of things because he really wants to help. He wasn’t doing it to give the impression to people that he was a good guy. That’s who he really is.”
Mariota also left an enormous impression on his high school in Hawai’i. He was regarded as the big brother on campus and many people can recall the way he was with others and his actions. Mariota’s former science teacher at St. Louis High School Lulu Lulu recalls how he was.
“Do you remember those ‘Be like Mike’ commercials?” Lulu said in a previous interview. “Well, for us here, it’s more like ‘Be like Marcus.’ He’s sort of becoming Hawai’i’s golden child because he is the person that embodies everything that we hope of our students and student-athletes. People sometimes say to me, ‘There’s got to be some faults.’ But I always tell them, ‘Good luck in finding them.’ If you do find any, I hope they were well worth all that research you did.”
Mariota was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. To date, he has passed for 6,244 yards, 49 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, rushed for 601 yards and another 4 touchdowns.
Mariota has struggled some with injuries, but when he is on the field, the Titans are a different team, a force to be reckoned with.
When he entered the league, he immediately raised eyebrows, being the youngest quarterback in NFL history to record a perfect game in only his first game in an NFL uniform. He did this against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston
Coming into the 2017 season, many believe that if he stays healthy, the Titans can make a beeline to the playoffs and could even make a deep playoff run. Mariota has shown time-and-time again that he is an athlete that existed on a different plane.
He has also proven that he is an exemplary person off the field, as well. Mariota is still young and his career in the NFL has only just begun.