Mariota will return to Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. — Quarterback Marcus Mariota has announced that he will return to Oregon for his junior season.

There had been speculation that Mariota might declare himself eligible for the NFL. Following Oregon’s 36-35 victory over Oregon State in the Civil War last Friday, he said he hadn’t yet made a decision.

But on Tuesday the school announced on its website that Mariota would stay, along with junior Hroniss Grasu, a three-year starter at center.

“It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates,” Mariota said in a statement. “I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great University.”

Mariota has thrown 30 touchdowns this season for the Ducks, who finished the regular season 10-2. Oregon will know its postseason fate on Sunday when the bowl pairings are announced.

He has thrown a touchdown in all 25 games he’s played in as a Duck, the third-longest current streak in the nation. His 39 touchdowns this season — 30 passing, 9 rushing — and 3,994 yards of total offense are the most in a single season at Oregon.

Widely considered a top Heisman Trophy candidate this season, Mariota was hampered by what appeared to be a left knee injury the last five games of the regular season. Oregon doesn’t discuss injuries as a policy so it was difficult to determine how serious it was.

The Ducks won their first eight games and were looking toward a shot at the national championship but they lost to Stanford in Palo Alto. Oregon lost again two weeks later at Arizona, which took the Ducks out of the Pac-12 championship game.

Stanford and Arizona State play for the league championship and a Rose Bowl berth Saturday.

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