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Sports & Fitness // Keeping Score
Bob Hogue

Mariota’s Excellent Home Weekend

How do you spend a few days off during a bye week if you’re one of the nation’s biggest college football superstars?

Well, if you’re Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota of the University of Oregon by way of Saint Louis School, you quietly and inauspiciously hop onto a plane and head to your hometown in Hawaii.

“We actually tried to sneak him home under the radar,” says Mariota’s mother Alana. “He arrived Friday at noon and spent the afternoon at the doctor, dentist and chiropractor, and got a haircut. It was a surprise for (Marcus’ brother) Matt; he had no idea Marcus was coming home. Both Saint Louis and Oregon had a bye that weekend, but the cool thing was that Marcus came home for the Saint Louis School Junior Rite of Passage Ceremony.”

Mariota, the sensational Oregon quarterback who continues to lead the Ducks into the national title picture, hadn’t been able to get back home from Eugene between his summer workouts and the start of fall camp, so this brief visit to the Islands was indeed timely. His brother Matt, a junior defensive end for the Crusaders, was thrilled because of the meaning of it.

“It’s the time when the juniors (are presented with) their class ring,” Alana says. “Marcus was able to give Matt his, which made it pretty special. Marcus follows all of Matt’s games (despite the sometimes three-hour time difference) until he falls asleep. We text him or he follows on scoringlive.com.”

On Saturday, since there was no Crusader game, Marcus attended Saint Louis football practice and eventually headed to Sandy Beach.

“He spent Saturday afternoon with Matt and friends. He just had to get into the water,” she says.

There also was plenty of time to enjoy his favorite local grinds. Let’s face it – what local boy on a weekend pass wouldn’t make one of his highest priorities the food he loves most?

“His favorite strawberry milk-shake is from Zippy’s,” Alana says. “He went for breakfast – fried rice, over-easy eggs and pork sausage, with grilled corn-bread and a strawberry milkshake. Lunch was a Surfpac with (another) strawberry milkshake!”

Sounds like a young man totally unaffected by Heisman talk, and his mother says that’s exactly the case. On Sunday, after barely 48 hours on Oahu, he flew back from his island home to the craziness of the rest of this college football season.

“From Marcus’s perspective, the Heisman talk is noise,” she says. “He sees it as a distraction and therefore does not really pay too much attention. He will divert the focus away from himself. He probably handles it better than we do, as he does not have a Twitter, Instagram or Facebook account. We try our best to protect him, and the school is very good at deflecting and protecting him and the other players as well. It gets overwhelming at times. People here at home are much more respectful of him and his time. In Eugene, he is unable to even eat at a restaurant or go to a movie without people wanting to take pictures, get an autograph or shake his hand. He understands that it is part of his role and tries his best to be kind and courteous to everyone.”

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