Duck star big winner at annual awards show
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Marcus Mariota put up nearly flawless numbers this season in leading Oregon to a spot in the first College Football Playoff.
At the College Football Awards Show on Thursday night, he went a perfect 3-for-3.
Mariota opened the night by winning the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and closed it by claiming the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year. In a separate announcement he also was selected the Walter Camp National Player of the Year.
"It's surreal. It's surreal. It really all is," Mariota said. "Growing up as a kid you always kind of see these award shows. To say that I'm a part of really this fraternity ... it's really just a blessing."
Mariota said this week he has never been completely comfortable with the spotlight brought on by winning awards. Thursday there was no way he could escape it.
Already considered the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, he now hopes to become the first player to win the Maxwell Award and Heisman in the same season since Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2010.
Some recent history is on Mariota's side. Four straight winners of the Davey O'Brien award have gone on to win the Heisman.
"That's the first time I've heard of (that trend)," he said. "I don't know how to explain it. It's pretty cool and we'll see what happens."
Both of the other Heisman finalists who will join Mariota in New York also left with hardware Thursday night.
Amari Cooper became the first Alabama player to win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's outstanding receiver. Melvin Gordon became the third Wisconsin player to win the Doak Walker Award given to the top running back in the country.
Gordon said Wednesday he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. He said he thinks he already has accomplished what he set out to do this year.
"I think I did," Gordon said. "Part of the reason I came back was to prove I was a better player. I felt I did that. There were some things I didn't achieve. But I put us in a position for those goals. But I did come back to be a better player and show I was one of the best running backs in the nation."
Other award winners Thursday were: Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright (Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year), Maryland's Brad Craddock (Lou Groza Award for nation's outstanding kicker), Utah's Tom Hackett (Ray Guy Award for punter of the year), Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff (Outland Trophy for outstanding interior lineman), and Louisville's Gerod Holliman (Jim Thorpe Award for nation's best defensive back).
Three other awards were announced prior to the live ceremony. The Rimington Trophy for the nation's outstanding center went to Auburn's Reese Dismukes. Florida State's Nick O'Leary was honored with the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end, and Duke's David Helton won the William V. Campbell Trophy for academic success, football performance and community service.
TCU coach Gary Patterson was selected the Home Depot Coach of the Year after guiding the Horned Frogs from a 4-8 mark in 2013 to 11-1 this season, falling just short of a spot in the playoff.
"Being outside of the College Football Playoff, I knew my players were disappointed. But we have to be the leaders not only in football, but in America," Patterson said. "(The Peach Bowl matchup with Ole Miss) is an opportunity one more time to show what we're made of."