- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the Pac-12’s Top 25 players from the 2013 season continues.
You can review our 2013 preseason Top 25 here.
No. 1: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
2013 numbers: Mariota completed 245 of 386 passes for 3,665 yards with 31 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He also rushed for 715 yards and nine touchdowns.
Preseason ranking: No. 1
Making the case for Mariota: The Heisman frontrunner for the most of the season, Mariota commanded the No. 1 offense in the Pac-12 as the Ducks averaged 45.5 points per game. He was named first-team All-Conference by the coaches and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp player of the year, more than justifying his spot as the preseason No. 1. A hush-hush knee injury sustained against UCLA eventually slowed him down the stretch and derailed what could have been a Heisman season. Pre-injury, he had 20 touchdowns and zero interceptions; post-injury, 11 touchdowns and four picks. All nine of his rushing touchdowns came before he partially tore his MCL. Still, he set an Oregon single-season record with 4,380 total yards. He also set a Pac-12 record by attempting 353 consecutive passes without an interception. He was No. 1 in the Pac-12 in efficiency and No. 1 in the nation in ESPN’s adjusted QBR rating. While he’ll likely start the season behind defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston, expect Mariota to garner significant preseason Heisman buzz and, at the very least, earn a trip to New York when it's all said and done. He passed up an opportunity to be a first-round draft pick. And by doing so, he makes the Ducks the early favorites in the Pac-12 in 2014 and a likely preseason top 5 team.
1dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell