Marcus Mariota is the first Hawaii native and first Oregon Ducks player to win college football’s highest honor.
On Saturday in New York City, Mariota walked on stage at the post-ceremony press conference wearing Samoan and Hawaiian leis around his neck after giving a humble speech as he accepted his Heisman trophy. In it he thanked his parents, friends, coaches and fellow players. He ended his speech in his native tongue, simply saying ‘Thank you.’
“In Hawaii, if one person is successful, the entire state is successful. To be a part of that, it’s so special,” he told the New York Times.
This season, the 6-foot-4, 219-pound quarterback threw for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He led the Ducks to a 12-1 record, the Pac-12 title and the team will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1 against the Florida State Seminoles.
In his speech, Mariota encouraged young kids to spread their wings.“There are a lot of kids back home in Hawaii who do have the talent to leave and decided not to,” Mariota said at the news conference. “I hope [me winning this] will encourage them to leave the island, start college careers and find greatness on their own.”
“This is not like a kid trying to get out of Compton or off of the [Native American] reservation, but in our own way, it’s still a challenge to leave here,” Darnell Arceneaux, Mariota’s high school coach at Saint Louis in Honolulu told Sports Illustrated. “What he’s doing, it’s opening a lot of doors for our youth. He could change lives.”
Mariota is the highest-rated passer in the nation and received the second-highest percentage of points (90.92) in Heisman voting history, behind onlyOhio State QB Troy Smith, who had 91.63 in 2006. He has already been compared to Aaron Rogers, and sports commentators have started to create buzz around NFL teams that might draft the quarterback in 2015.
He is the 80th winner of the Heisman Trophy award.
"It's such a blessing," Mariota said.