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Marcus Mariota credits soccer for NFL preparation

Like many young players entering the NFL today, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota played soccer as a youth.

The Hawaiian native credited the sport with helping develop the athleticism, fundamentals and intelligence that have aided his path to becoming a starting quarterback.

"I think soccer is a great fundamental sport -- I think it built a foundation for me as an athlete," Mariota told WGFX-FM in Nashville, via "Whether that's my footwork now, or relative to just kind of seeing the field and instincts.

"I think soccer is just such a game where you have to understand the complexities and the system of what's going on, and you have to know that before you get the ball. And once you get the ball, you have to react. I think that has helped my growth not only as a football player but as an athlete."

Many young players credit soccer with developing their coordination and interest in sports. Odell Beckham Jr. of last year's rookie class is another who comes to mind. As soccer proliferates within the U.S., so will those NFL players who've dabbled in it. Athleticism is always transferable.

Titans quarterbacks coach John McNulty indirectly gave Mariota's soccer comparison some credence in comments he made about the signal-caller always being on balance, especially on the move.

"He can just make those throws without having to get shoulders, feet, hips, everything aligned to make a throw. He can flick the ball to somebody without getting set, on the move, and it will hit them right in the face," McNulty said.

Now the Titans need that talent to transfer into the NFL season if they are to dig themselves out of the basement of the AFC South.

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