Were it not for a knee injury, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota might have been toting around the Heisman Trophy heading into this season instead of Jameis Winston. A frequent comparison for him is Colin Kaepernick, but Mariota is a more polished passer than he's given credit for and has a strong enough arm to make all the throws. His running ability truly takes the Ducks' offense to another level as he can take it to the house on the ground if he hits the edge. Given his size, strength and decision-making, few are able to come close to the wizardry the Hawaiian displays on the field.
Pulling back the curtain on the vote
Only a 10th-place vote by one panelist kept Mariota from competing for the No. 1 overall spot. He received two first-place votes; only one player received more. Mariota placed in the top four of all panelist ballots with the exception of the 10th-place vote.
What some of our analysts are saying about Mariota
"He's still very raw, but he's a playmaking machine. He is often the fastest player on the field." - Daniel Jeremiah
"Explosive dual threat with outstanding athleticism and arm talent. Hard to find a more impressive playmaker in the college game." - Bucky Brooks
"Has added weight, strength with no loss of his blazing 4.4 speed." - Charles Davis
"Has all the physical tools, including a big arm." - Gil Brandt
"He's a more polished passer than he's given credit for, and can take it to the house on the ground if he hits the edge." - Bryan Fischer
"He operates one of the most dangerous offenses in the country at a frenetic pace, and throws on the run as well as he throws from the pocket." - Chase Goodbread
"He's another dual-threat quarterback who fits well in his team's version of the spread. When he's on, he's razor-sharp." - Mike Huguenin
Where do fans rank Mariota?
We asked Twitter and Facebook users who they considered the best player in college football. Mariota finished third, capturing 19 percent of the more than 19,000 votes cast.