The countdown to the 80th Heisman Trophy is on and KHON2’s Rob DeMello is in New York City to cover the announcement.
Hawaii’s own Marcus Mariota, Oregon’s junior quarterback, is one of three finalists, and the front-runner, for the coveted award.
Pac-12 analyst and former USC assistant coach Yogi Roth said what makes Mariota so special is his conduct off the field — how he handles himself and his love for his home state.
“To hear Marcus say that he’d rather be an ambassador to the state of Hawaii versus being the best, known as the best college football player, doesn’t come with a surprise. That’s who Marcus was at 15, 16 years old, when he was red shirting, when he was starting as a red shirt freshman, and clearly now in the limelight, he hasn’t changed,” Roth said. “I think that consistency is a model. It’s a refreshing model. It’s a model for all of your high school quarterbacks watching this piece. It’s a model for every student athlete in America. It’s a model for athletes and performers around the globe. I think it’s a such a cool tribute to how he was raised, starting with his parents and, of course, his community, and to not to lose sight of that versus just saying it, which all athletes, we all just say it, right? ‘Oh, it’s all for my hometown.’ But for him to truly live it is something that I think is real.”
Like many others, Roth said he believes that Mariota will win the Heisman. If it happens, Mariota would be the first Hawaii-born athlete to do so.
Greg Salas, former University of Hawaii All American and current New York Jets wide receiver, says he couldn’t be prouder of the way Mariota is representing Hawaii.
“You hear nothing but positive things about him, and I feel like he’s just a great ambassador for the state of Hawaii and you know he’s done things the right way,” Salas said. “You don’t hear about him getting in trouble at all. You hear he’s just a great kid so, someone who does it the right way and does things the right way, you can’t be nothing but happy and proud of him. He gets the game. He gets me excited about the game, watching him play. His efficiency is just crazy. I think if you look at some of the stats he’s put up and the numbers, the way he does things cool, calm and collected on the field, you know, he’s just a great football player and I’m excited to watch him continue his success at the next level.”
Salas, who suffered an injury a couple of weeks ago, is on injured reserve and will not play for the Jets for the rest of the year.
He says he will be glued to his television set on Saturday, hopefully watching Mariota capture the Heisman.
All the official hoopla starts Friday with some press conferences. The other two Heisman finalists, Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin and Amari Cooper out of Alabama, will be available.
Mariota arrives Saturday morning and the awards ceremony itself will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. Hawaii time Saturday on ESPN.