EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Marcus Mariota takes a lot of ribbing over his course load this semester: yoga and golf.
For those joking that Mariota need only add underwater basketweaving, the reality is that the quarterback for No. 3 Oregon finished his degree requirements in just three years.
Oh, and opponents should also take note that those easy A's mean Mariota is going to be able to spend a lot more time focusing on football this season.
"With the amount of free time I'll have, it will mean being early in the treatment room, remaining healthy and doing recovery stuff, and along with that film work and being around the building more to do that kind of thing. To be able to have a little more time for football it will really be beneficial to me," he said.
The Ducks open at home on Saturday night against South Dakota.
Mariota averaged nearly 282 yards passing per game and threw for 31 touchdowns with only four interceptions last season. He also rushed for 715 yards and nine scores. His 4,380 yards of total offense set a school record.
All the while he was also taking 20 units. Toward a science degree, no less. He graduates (early) in December.
"He was taking all these upper division biology, upper division science. He had 20 credits and aiming to get done in time to graduate. It was just impressive. He's managed his media obligations and still doing everything he has in the community, which is substantial by anyone's measure," coach Mark Helfrich said.
There was speculation last season that he'd jump at opportunities in the NFL, but Mariota announced early on that he was sticking with the Ducks.
Mariota, a redshirt junior, said his decision didn't have all that much to do with "unfinished business" after Oregon lost two games last season to fall out of national championship contention. It had more to do with finishing school and the Ducks. He said he's interested — someday — in pursuing a career in sports medicine.
"For me I wanted to come back and get my degree, come back and enjoy another year with the guys and experience college for another year," he said.
In large part because of Mariota's return, the Ducks enter the season at No. 3 in the AP Top 25. Oregon has been picked in the annual poll of reporters who cover the conference to finish this season atop the Pac-12 North and claim the league's championship.