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Marcus Mariota on 2015 draft: 'That's the last thing on my mind'


ARLINGTON, Texas -- After Oregon star Marcus Mariota capped off his remarkable 2014 season with a disappointing loss in the national championship game, the redshirt junior remained noncommittal on whether he would apply for early entry into the 2015 NFL Draft.

» Elliott leads Ohio State past Oregon to win national championship

Asked if Monday night's loss was his final college game, Mariota laughed and said, "That's the last thing on my mind right now."

CFB Championship:
Ohio State 42, Oregon 20

The dual-threat signal-caller flashed his pro potential against a stout Ohio State defense Monday night, throwing for 333 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and rushing for another 39 yards. In doing so, he became the first Pac-12 player to record 5,000 or more yards of total offense in a season, one of several school, conference and FBS records he set this year.

While many players would have used the emotional opportunity to confirm future plans, Mariota didn't. Perhaps that's a statement about Mariota's personality or the fact that he was simply too focused on beating Ohio State and hasn't made a decision. Oregon staff members have indicated the past month that they believe he is leaning toward leaving Eugene after four years but noted he was one of the few players who could pull off a shocking decision to return to school just when everybody thought he was set to make the jump.

"He was never going to make a decision in three days," Scott Frost, Oregon's offensive coordinator, said of the impending deadline for Mariota to declare. "He's been thinking about this a long time, and he'll make the right decision.

"Marcus and I are close, and we've had a lot of discussions about everything."

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Given how young Oregon is overall, Mariota's return would automatically place the Ducks at or near the top of the 2015 preseason polls -- probably right behind the Buckeyes they played to close out the first ever College Football Playoff.

Mariota has been labeled as a potential franchise quarterback at the next level by some, and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called him "one of the finest that's ever played" college football. He has a number of traits that have scouts salivating about what he could be able to do in the NFL. NFL Media Analyst Bucky Brooks noted after Oregon's win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl that he is an intriguing prospect capable of developing into a spectacular player but would place the Heisman Trophy winner behind FSU's Jameis Winston as the most pro-ready passers in college this season.

Mariota has said previously he would like to take some time and talk things over with his family before a decision is reached. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft is Jan. 15.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.



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