Ducks’ Marcus Mariota to enter NFL draft

Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to the national title game against Ohio State

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota talks during a news conference prior to the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota talks during a news conference prior to the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota announced he will enter the NFL draft, officials with the University of Oregon confirmed to KOIN 6 News.

Mariota led the Ducks to the national title game against Ohio State and became the first University of Oregon player to win the Heisman.

Whether Mariota would skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft has been the subject of speculation for months. He deflected all talk of the NFL draft throughout the season and playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the top pick in the 2015 draft in April.

“After meeting with my family I have decided to forego my final year of eligibility and apply for the 2015 NFL Draft,” Mariota said in a statement released by the university.

“My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience. I cannot thank Coach Kelly, Coach Helfrich, Coach Frost, the rest of the Oregon coaches and the support staff enough for molding me as a person, player and student-athlete.

“The support I received from the University, the city of Eugene and Duck fans has been tremendous. I will always remember the great times and support I received. Once a Duck always a Duck.

“I will miss being with my teammates. Being a part of this team was something special that I will always treasure.”

Over his career with the Ducks, Mariota led the team to a 36-5 record, and set an NCAA record with at least one TD pass in all 41 games. He also earned a general science degree from the university.

In a statement, coach Mark Helfrich said he was honored to watch Mariota develop over the past four years.

“He’s given this program everything we could have asked, and he’ll be the standard by which others are judged,” Helfrich said. “Mahalo.”

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