Heisman Trophy finalist Marcus Mariota was announced Tuesday as the inaugural recipient of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.
The Oregon quarterback from Honolulu and Saint Louis School of Samoan ancestry is considered the favorite to win the Heisman when it is announced Saturday.
Polynesian College Football Hall of Fame co-founders Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvasa made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Waikiki. The award recognizes the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.
In a video at the press conference, Mariota thanked the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, sponsors and teammates.
“I hope this opens the door for many other Polynesian athletes,” Mariota said.
The 6-foot 4, 220-pound, Mariota helped lead the Ducks to an 11-1 regular season record, the Pac-12 Championship, and a berth in next month’s College Football Playoff. His 2014 campaign was a record-breaking one. He finished the season with the top quarterback rating in the Nation, was responsible for 53 touchdowns (38 passing, 14 rushing, 1 receiving), had 4,452 all-purpose yards which is the most in the nation and was named the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game Most Valuable Player.
Other Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award Finalists included P/WR/PR Scott Harding (University of Hawai’i), LB Hau’oli Kikaha (University of Washington), DE Nate Orchard (University of Utah) and QB Anu Solomon (University of Arizona).
“Marcus has orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in college football this season,” Sapolu said. “He truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
The formal presentation of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend at the Celebration dinner on January 23, 2015.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Marcus on this historic accomplishment,” said Tanuvasa. “He is a great role model for our youth and a source of great pride for Polynesian’s everywhere.”
The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee members, past college football head coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), LaVell Edwards and Ron McBride, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett, NFL player personnel expert Gil Brandt, past National Football League Players Association president and inaugural inductee Kevin Mawae and Hawaii sportscaster Robert Kekaula.