Hawaii's Heisman Hopeful: Marcus Mariota off the field - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii's Heisman Hopeful: Marcus Mariota off the field

AP photo: Rick Bowmer AP photo: Rick Bowmer
EUGENE, OREGON (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Marcus Mariota simply put, is a local boy. He's quiet, humble, and family oriented.

"My parents, the guys from home, my teammates…they help me realize that this thing is a bigger picture" he said during our trip to Eugene.

Contrary to the high-flying offense he commands, Marcus is incredibly grounded. "There's a lot more going on than myself" he pointed out.

The 21-year old is also keenly aware of his surroundings. Marcus knows he's the Heisman favorite, but pays it no mind. He's aware of critics saying he's not vocal enough, but shrugs them off like so many would-be tacklers.

"That's other people's opinions. For me, I just continue to be who I am. My parents always say be true to yourself and that's always kind of how I've handled everything”.

There are however, other people's opinions of him that do matter; namely, the kids back home who see him as a role model.

"That little kid that you see down on Waialae Avenue is going to take whatever decision you made and say, you know, he did that and he'll imitate you. No matter what, you've got some little kids, some people are going to look up to you and you've just got to hold yourself to a higher standard".

In speaking with Marcus, you get a sense pretty quick that he's a guy that would be happy to be just part of the crowd. But given his status and standing, you realize that's exactly what sets him apart.

"Whether it's family, to school to football, he's probably one of the first persons I talk to about things because I know besides the fact that I can trust him and he's always been there for me" said Bronson Yim, Mariota's teammate at Oregon and classmate at St Louis.

Not only is Mariota durable enough to be a confidant, he can also handle being poked fun at, like when the topic of his course load comes up.

"He has it nice right now, put it that way. He might go swing a couple golf clubs on a Tuesday maybe, he might stroll into class on a Wednesday for a couple hours. He has it nice right now" laughed teammate and Kamehameha Kapalama graduate Koa Ka'ai.

Don't be mistaken, Marcus will earn his degree. His other two remaining classes deal with substance abuse and childhood education for the disabled. Those classes show some of his other interests. Ironically enough, they reveal how it's away from the spotlight, where Marcus shines the brightest.

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