Mariota deflects what is deserved

The Ducks will have their first Heisman winner in program history as Marcus Mariota is the odds on favorite to win the award.

Tonight, Marcus Mariota wins the Heisman. Sorry, there is no drama in the presentation tonight. After the ceremony at the Downtown Athletic Club, Mariota will be the Ducks first Heisman winner and he deserves it, for all the right reasons. The award’s reputation has been sullied somewhat with the off-field antics of its previous two winners in Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston.

Yes, Mariota has been electric on the field this season, he holds records for total touchdowns and yardage and is going to continue to distance himself from second place with at very least one more game to play. This isn’t about Marcus the player. This is about Marcus the person.

I have had the pleasure of watching Mariota from the press box or field for two seasons now. In that time I have spoken with him, interviewed him and observed what essentially amounts to every videotaped appearance from Oregon’s signal caller. I do not have any stories of Mariota stopping to hold a conversation with practically everyone on his way to class but I have seen that he is the real deal.

One joke that often goes around in the press is not to stand behind Mariota for the sake of all of us. Why not? Because Mariota will turn around and show his back to the video cameras for the sake of facing the person he is speaking with, directly. It has happened so many times all you can do is shake your head and chuckle.

This isn’t to say that Mariota is unaware of the attention that he garners but rather unaffected by it. He spends time in the media shaking off credit like he shakes off defenders on the field. Ask him about something exceptional he did on the field, he’ll talk about the way his offensive line blocked or how the receiver found a way to beat the coverage so he could make a play.

Expect tonight to be more of the same. Likely, Mariota will talk about how blessed he is to be in such a situation where he could be successful. He will gracefully accept the award and deflect the praise once again, just like he did with the Walter Camp Award. And the Maxwell. And the Davey O’Brien.

Mariota is set to win the Heisman and convincingly so. For the last couple seasons, the Heisman has been given to the most talented football player in the country. Finally, for the first time in a three years the award is going to the most deserving player in college football.

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