January 14, 2015 / 9:14 PM / in 3 years

Oregon's Heisman-winning quarterback Mariota to enter NFL Draft

(Reuters) - Quarterback Marcus Mariota, whose Oregon team was thrashed by Ohio State in Monday’s college football playoff championship, said on Wednesday he will forgo his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) avoids Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Michael Bennett (53) in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Mariota, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner as the nation’s top collegiate player, is widely seen as one of the top overall prospects in this year’s draft class.

“After meeting with my family I have decided to forego my final year of eligibility and apply for the 2015 NFL Draft,” said Mariota, who led the Ducks to a 36-5 record, and set an NCAA record by passing for a touchdown in all 41 career starts.

“My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience.”

Mariota was the first three-time first-team all-Pac-12 quarterback in conference history.

“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.

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

Mariota, a 6-foot-4 (1.93 m) native of Hawaii, finished his career at Oregon with 10,796 passing yards, 105 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions in three years.

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

ESPN drew the highest ratings and viewership in the history of U.S. cable television for Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon on Monday.

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Frank Pingue

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