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Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will return for redshirt junior season

Marcus Mariota has been flying high for two seasons as the starting quarterback for Oregon, so high he has been regarded as the future No. 1 overall draft pick.

But it will not be in the 2014 NFL Draft. Mariota announced Tuesday that he will return to the Ducks next season.

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"It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates," Mariota said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great University."

Mariota will be joined by center Hroniss Grasu, a redshirt junior who has been named first-team All-Pac-12 for two consecutive seasons.

Mariota threw for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 582 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Mariota did not throw an interception until the ninth game of the season and was intercepted just four times in 360 pass attempts.

However, Mariota's play diminished after injuring his left knee in the second half in a win over UCLA. Mariota played wearing a heavy brace during the final four games of the regular season, clearly hindering his mobility and overall performance as Oregon lost twice at Stanford and Arizona.

Still, Mariota (6-foot-4, 211 pounds) possesses rare physical gifts and will be the presumptive favorite to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2015 draft.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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