Kelly On Mariota: ‘He’s Everything You Want’

Kirby Lee / USA Today

Kirby Lee / USA Today

On Saturday night, there’s a pretty good chance that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will win the Heisman Trophy.

To the man who recruited him and coached him for two years, that’s not really a surprise.

“I had nothing to do with Marcus. When he was a freshman, I remarked, ‘This kid’s gonna win the Heisman,’ ” said Chip Kelly. “He’s a special young man, and he’s a hell of a football player, and he deserves it. But I don’t think it was any impact that I had. The type of kid that he is, he had an impact on everybody that got to coach him. I’m sure Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost will tell you the same thing. He’s just a special young man and very deserving of the award.”

Why did Kelly think that Mariota, as a freshman, would eventually hoist the Heisman?

“Because he’s a special player. He’s just got a gift for playing football. He’s everything you want. He can throw the ball. He can run. He’s the most talented kid that I coached at college.”

Playing for Kelly in 2012, Mariota completed 68.5 percent of his passes while throwing 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 752 yards and five touchdowns

In 2014, Mariota completed 68.3 percent of his passes with 38 touchdowns and two picks. He also ran for 669 yards and 14 scores.

Asked what’s impressed him most about Mariota in the past two years, Kelly said: “I don’t get a chance, because their games are on so late, sometimes I watch the first half and I fall asleep. So I haven’t had a chance to watch a full body of work from him. But anything he does numbers-wise and things like that don’t surprise me. But I think it’s how he handles himself, his demeanor and all those things that really kind of set him apart. He’s a special young man from that standpoint.”

The Eagles figure to be picking no higher than the 20s in the draft. Early indications are that Mariota will be a top-five pick, although obviously a lot can change between now and draft time.

As unlikely as it might be, there figures to be plenty of conversation this offseason about a potential trade-up.