Oregon's Marcus Mariota makes himself eligible for NFL draft

Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is making himself available for the NFL draft

Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will forgo his final year of eligibility and make himself available for the NFL draft, the university announced Wednesday.

In a statement posted to the school's athletic website, Mariota thanked the Ducks' coaches and his teammates.

"My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience," Mariota said. "I will miss being with my teammates. Being a part of this team was something special that I will always treasure."

Mariota's decision comes two days after the Ducks fell to Ohio State, 42-20, in the first College Football Playoff national title game. He posted a 36-5 career record with the Ducks and became the first quarterback in Pac-12 history to pass for more than 5,000 yards. He also recorded a conference-record 136 touchdowns during his time in Eugene, Ore.

In addition to winning the Heisman Trophy, Mariota was the Associated Press college football player of the year and the Pac-12 offensive player of the year.

He led Oregon to a 13-2 record this season, which included a blowout win over defending national champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl in the CFP semifinals. 

"It's been an honor to watch Marcus develop over the last four years, and I'm excited to see what his future holds," Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement. "He's given this program everything we could have asked, and he'll be the standard by which others are judged. Mahalo."

Along with 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Mariota is considered by many as one of the top quarterback prospects available in the 2015 NFL draft class. He could be selected No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are need of a big-name quarterback.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


12:25 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional details and background.

This story was first published at 11:57 a.m.