University of Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota isn't a yapper. He's not trying to be the life of the college football party. He is a quiet leader who chooses his words wisely and, most of all, knows who he is.
Who he is, in a sentence or less: A gifted athlete from Hawaii who takes great pride in his Polynesian culture, cherishes the wisdom of his elders, and gives his all on the field. No, it's not sexy or edgy, but then—the sport of football, on both the college and professional levels, doesn't need sexy or edgy. Frankly, it could use a few old-fashioned good guys right now, and Mariota is good to the core.
A good person and, lest we forget, a very good football player. Tonight, he leads his Oregon Ducks into the National Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. If you watch the game, you'll get a sense for his athletic prowess; for the (rarer) insight into Mariota the man, we've collected some comments from, and about, Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.
Mariota's Heisman Trophy acceptance speech: "Young [Polynesian] athletes everywhere, you should take this as motivation, and dream big and strive for greatness."
On why he's so balanced: "It just comes from my family. It's part of our culture."
On his legacy: "I think the best thing that someone can say of you is that you're a great teammate."
Words of wisdom from his father: "Never forget where you come from, and understand that you represent much more than yourself."
On his home: "Being from Hawaii is special, and we never take that for granted."
On looking out for the younger generation: "To be a volunteer, to be a mentor, it's really once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff."
Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich on Mariota: "He's the perfect role model for everything sports should be about, everything leadership should be about. "
Lulu Lulu, Mariota's high school biology teacher: "He got straight A's. ... He broke that mold of the typical jock."
Sione Thompson of St. Louis High School: "He's always striving to get better. He's never satisfied."