There are several things I find interesting about the fact that ESPN has named Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota the Top Player in the Pac 12 on Their Top 25 list. First, both staff writers for ESPN Gammell and Miller earlier this month chose Stanford to win the Conference, yet the best player doesn’t play for them. All the more reason to circle November 7th on the calendar.
To several media members of the Ducks this placement for the Ducks signal caller is not a surprise – his numbers heading into the season are incredible, as is the talent around him. According to Gemmell and ESPN.com,
He ended 2012 as our No. 1, and we see no reason to penalize him for getting better in the off season. Yes, he should be even better in 2013. With an outstanding line and cast of players around him like De’Anthony Thomas, Colt Lyerla, Josh Huff and a surging Byron Marshall, expect Mariota to build off his incredible numbers that made him an All-American honorable mention last season. Look for the postseason accolades to increase as well — maybe even the bronze guy with the stiff arm. It’s fun to wonder what his numbers might have looked like last year had he not sat out of the second half of a few games because Oregon couldn’t help but put up 40-plus points in the first half. And given Oregon’s early schedule in 2013 — it’s possible we could see Mark Helfrich treat his quarterback the same way Chip Kelly did last year. Still, as long as he’s running Oregon’s offense with fantastic precision, he’ll put up the kind of dual-threat numbers that Heisman voters love. The fact that Oregon starts the year ranked in the top five and will be a national championship contender helps. In this quarterback-driven league, Mariota stands at the top of his position and the top of our preseason list.
Number two on the list is Arizona State’s Defensive Tackle Will Sutton, Marquise Lee, Wideout for USC is third, followed by UCLA Linebacker Anthony Barr and Bears Quarterback Brett Hundley. Several Ducks also made the list of 25 - including Cornerback Ifo Ekpre Olomu at 8, Running Back De’Anthony Thomas at 14, and Center Hroniss Grasu at 23.
Oregon kicks off the 2013 season Saturday vs Nicholls State (1pm, Fox Sports 1) – our coverage from AutzenZoo begins at Noon.
Oregon Ducks This Week: