Honor Roll No. 10: Owen Marecic

During the summer months, we have released the 10 winners of the Bootleg Honor Roll. Our previously announced members were water polo's Annika Dries, runner Chris Derrick, gymnast Alex Buscaglia, softball's Ashley Hansen, runner Elliot Heath, swimmer Austin Staab, volleyball's Alix Klineman, soccer's Christen Press and football's Andrew Luck. Our final announced honoree is football's Owen Marecic

In a June 3rd article we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2010/2011 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student- athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."

Not entirely coincidentally, Owen Marecic's path to glory parallels the recent rise of Stanford football.

Marecic arrived at Stanford an unheralded two-star recruit, with corresponding expectations. Stanford won one game in 2006, and the accepted reality was that football would never, could never be a consistent big winner on the Farm.

People didn't notice at first, but both Marecic and the program as a whole embarked upon a consistent upward march from that nadir. Stanford football would win four games the next season, then five, then eight, as a fiery coach by the name of Harbaugh implemented his enthusiasm unknown to mankind, overwhelming pre-snap motion and a whole lot of power left. Marecic earned a starting role, then impressed Stanford fans and coaches, then started showing up on the fringe of All Pac-10 lists. Three straight honorable mentions, some whispers among those in the know that the two-star recruit could hang with the league's top talent, and maybe more.

Then came 2010, a once-in-a-generation season that's the stuff of every sports fan's dreams, a season when the stars and planets align just so. Be it for publicity, positive recruiting, legitimate football strategy or just to be different, Harbaugh decided Marecic would play both ways. The gambit paid off, for while there were times he looked like the rookie defender he was, there was an awful lot of speed and talent in the middle of that D to clean up, with Skov, Thomas, Keiser, Howell and Fua leading the way. Plus, of course, Marecic, Luck and the gang could get back whatever the defense did yield.

Then, of course, there was a good amount of luck: Marecic and Harbaugh were the hot craps shooters on a 30-minute roll, with whatever they did somehow paying off. Marecic's one defensive touchdown on the season just so happened to occur the very play from scrimmage after he'd scored the traditional way, at Notre Dame, no less. Sports Illustrated's Kelli Anderson was an alum (as is ESPN's Ivan Maisel), Harbaugh was the gushing type, and so it came to be that Marecic found himself with a feature-length story in the national sports magazine of record, and revelation the poem Marecic wrote Harbaugh on a cracked helmet.

In honor of the Harbaugh-dubbed "ultimate football player," Marecic's Mane-iacs were borne – fans in Stanford Stadium all wearing wigs in the spirit of Marecic's signature locks. The real locks, of course, were soon to become Locks of Love, and the predictable wave of good publicity accompanied that decision too. Marecic's stories had gone national by this point, Stanford finished 12-1 and No. 4 in the country, and thus a fullback found himself a first-team All-American and winner of the Paul Hornung award, given annually to the nation's most versatile player. Four months later, that two-star recruit would hear his name called in the NFL Draft.

It's not that Owen Marecic didn't deserve all that came his way. It's more that there are a lot of good, hard-working football players out there, and they all need a little luck to create moments to tell the grandkids.

The stars lined up for Stanford football in 2010. Nate Whitaker's field goal split the uprights at USC after he'd missed an extra point on his preceding kick. Luck rallied his team in the desert of Tempe as Vontaze Burfict kept Stanford's fourth-quarter drives alive with dumb personal fouls. The injury bug buzzed past Palo Alto, where one injury at quarterback or defensive tackle or several other key positions separated the squad from 7-5.

So it is for any magical season. Had Auburn not rallied from 24-0 down against Alabama, or had the NCAA declared Cam Newton ineligible in real time, and not in the retroactive decision inevitably coming in two years' time, the national championship trophy would be sitting in Eugene. Had Chip Kelly not brought his spread to Oregon and found the perfect backfield to run the offense, or had the NCAA known and acted against Oregon in real time, the Pac-10 title, and maybe more, would be in Stanford's trophy case.

So it is in honor of that all-too-rare magic that turns the most grown of men into the giddiest of children that we honor Owen Marecic as our final Honor Roll member, and a standout member of a team long-suffering Stanford fans will long remember.


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