Local Connection: Marcus Mariota - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Marcus Mariota

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By: Rick Blangiardi

Hawaii loves when one of its own makes it big. In modern times, think Michelle Wie, Manti Teo, Bruno Mars, Barack Obama.

Now along comes Marcus Mariota, the St. Louis School graduate who is leading Oregon into the NCAA's first playoff and is one of the leading candidates for the Heisman trophy.

We thought so much of Marcus that we sent anchor Chris Tanaka and photographer Jon Suyat to Eugene to spend time with Marcus, some of his Hawaii teammates and coach Mark Helfrich.

We came away with a much better portrait of a young man who is a great leader and competitor and if he so chooses, can probably enter the NFL draft after this, his junior year.

It is amazing to think that his senior year at St. Louis was the only one in which he was a starter. or for that matter, that Helfrich convinced then-coach Chip Kelly to offer him a scholarship even though he wasn't running the offense. Of major schools, only Oregon and Memphis even offered scholarships.

Marcus redshirted in 2011 and a year later, became a redshirt freshman. Three years later, he's thrown for more than 9,000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns.

But what makes him special, beyond his great arm and amazing speed, are his humble roots and leadership ability. Helfrich, his coach, said he comes to practice asking a great question every day.

We want you to know that we will be in New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony where we hope, the dream for the special young Marcus Mariota will continue.

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