Journalists, former winners, and the public joined to vote Marcus Mariota the 80th winner of the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. He becomes the fifth straight quarterback and the first Hawaiian to win the award.
Flanked by Tony Dorsett, Tim Tebow, and scores of past Heisman winners, Mariota explained: “I am humbled to be standing here today.” His body language and downward-looking gaze affirmed his words. “This award belongs to my teammates,” Mariota claimed. He first thanked his offensive line. He thanked Nike’s Phil Knight for his generosity to the University of Oregon. He offered a “thank you” in Samoan. And before he thanked his family, he slowly, and dramatically, broke down.
The Oregon Ducks signal-caller threw for 3,783 yards during a 12-1 campaign that sees the Ducks play in college football’s first playoff. Mariota’s stat line perhaps drops more jaws in its stingy interception total (2) than its gaudy number (38) of touchdown passes. The Samoan-American also proved a threat on the ground. Mariota ran for 14 touchdowns and 669 yards in 2014.
Runner-up Melvin Gordon, who retains an outside shot to break the FBS single-season rushing record, earned 2,336 yards on the ground and scored 26 touchdowns on 309 carries. The Wisconsin tailback briefly owned the single-game FBS rushing mark after he put 408 yards on Nebraska. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine eclipsed the record the following week.
Alabama’s Amari Cooper, the third-place finisher, compiled 1,656 yards off 114 receptions. The receiver scored 14 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett rounded out the top-five finishers.
“It’s all been a blessing,” Mariota told ESPN before the ceremony. He called the consideration “pretty special” given that “football means a lot” to Hawaiians. “If one is successful,” he reflected, “the entire state is successful. It’s all been a blessing.”