By Ray Hamill
The lure of money can wait. Marcus Mariota knows he has some unfinished business to take care of first.
And that’s good news for the Ducks, and good news for Mariota’s NFL prospects.
The Oregon quarterback announced on Tuesday that he will remain in school for one more year, and it’s a decision that has been widely welcomed, albeit not expected.
Indeed, in an age where most college athletes can’t wait to bolt for the professional ranks and bigger paychecks than a free college education, Mariota’s announcement was a breath of fresh air, and ultimately the right decision.
It not only allows Mariota the player to continue to evolve without undue pressure, but it also shows a maturity and understanding from Mariota the man, and an acknowledgment that he still has lessons to learn before he takes on the challenge of the NFL.
As a third-year sophomore, Mariota could have moved on to the NFL and was expected to be a top-five pick (at worst) and quite probably the first quarterback taken.
But it’s a different world in the NFL these days and Mariota knows that.
It’s not like it used to be where a young quarterback could hold a clipboard for three years and develop slowly before being thrust into the spotlight. Nowadays, a top young quarterback is expected to contribute immediately, and if he doesn’t live up to the sometimes unrealistic expectations, the pressure begins to build.
That can, and has, ruined many a good prospect.
At 20, Mariota has plenty of time on his side, and he knows college is the best place for him to continue to develop.
Plus, he probably still wants to beat Stanford – just once.