Let's give a big congratulations to quarterback Marcus Mariota of Oregon for winning the prestigious Heisman Trophy about a week ago. This man totally deserved it. This huge achievement also made the upcoming CFB Playoff semi-final matchup in the Rose Bowl that much sweeter. #2 Oregon, led by the aformentioned Heisman-winning Mariota, will take on the undefeated, #3 Florida State Seminoles led by last year's Heisman winner, QB Jameis Winston. While both of these players have proven over time to be elite talents, I'd take Mariota over Winston any day of the week. Here's why.
First off, let's look at the stats. They are both two of the top quarterbacks in college football. Last season, Winston was truly special. Winston burst onto the scene in Tallahassee by throwing for over 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns. He also completed an impressive 66.9% of his passes. He became one of the most recognized faces in all of college football due in part to his outgoing self and leading his Seminoles to a BCS Championship victory over Auburn.
Unfortunately, this is not nearly all he is known for. In fall of 2013, Winston was accused of raping a woman in the Tallahassee area. While never proven true, this situation was sketchy at best as Winston's DNA was connected to the alleged victim, and there were rumors of a cover-up. (The hearing for this has been further delayed.) Either way, Jameis certainly received some bad press during this process, but that's not all.
In the offseason and going into the regular season, Winston was on the news more often than not for some things I'm sure Head Coach Jimbo Fisher regrets including stealing a soda from a fast-food restaurant, being among teammates when they shot out an apartment window with a BB gun, stealing crab legs from a Publix nearby, and standing on a table in the FSU Student Union shouting explicit vulgarities. The thing that is so sad about the ordeal is that Winston doesn't seem that remorseful. I guess it doesn't matter if you talk the talk but don't walk the walk.
Anyway, Jameis has not had quite as good of a 2014 as he did last season. He's thrown for 3,559 yards with 24 touchdowns but with a scary 17 interceptions. You can definitely say that he has not been as accurate, but he still finds a way to lead FSU to wins (albeit in the ACC). Winston is still one of the biggest offensive weapons in college football, and his record speaks for itself. He has never lost a game at Florida State as a starter.
The young man he will be facing in a week or so is Marcus Mariota. Mariota has had a very impressive career during his time in Eugene, Oregon, breaking most of the passing records there. The Hawaiian native is not only an extremely accurate passer and has a good arm, but he is also a very adept and swift runner. He has thrived in Mark Helfrich's system and has thrown for 3,783 yards with 38 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. That is truly remarkable. He's also added another 669 yards and 14 scores on the ground. He is the best quarterback in all of college football and is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in the game.
What's more important about Mariota is his conduct off the gridiron. Known to be somewhat of a quiet guy, Mariota is shy at times and prefers to lead by example not just by words. He has been known by teammates to pick up trash, hand out food to homeless people, and do other admirable things. Mariota is also a very humble individual who is truly a prime example of what we love in a college football player. This guy is an exemplarary figure on and off the field.
Overall, Winston and Mariota are both two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but let's face it, Mariota has been better. He seems to be an even better person also. I'm not trying to dog Jameis, but integrity appears to be something he doesn't have a lot of. All the NFL scouts are drooling over Mariota and rightfully so. It's not a coincidence that the Oregon Ducks are in the first ever CFB Playoff.
More and more, college football has simply become about making money and finding the easiest path to the NFL and not caring how you get there. Mariota is an exception. He's the best quarterback in the land but also does things the right way. That's why I'd take Mariota over Winston any day of the week.
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