ANAHEIM, Calif. >> The two most recent winners of the Heisman Trophy shared the stage for the first time Saturday at Disneyland, five days before they share the field at the Rose Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal game.
Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State, the 2014 and 2013 Heisman winners, respectively, traded compliments at the first Rose Bowl media opportunity.
The two reacquainted at the theme park after they met last summer at the quarterback camp run by the Manning family.
"He’s an all-around great person," Winston said of Mariota, a Saint Louis School graduate and the first Heisman Trophy winner from Hawaii. "He’s quiet and fun to be around because he doesn’t say anything. He’s a class act and a wonderful person."
And Mariota said he enjoys Winston’s gregarious nature.
"He’s a great guy, a funny guy. It’s great to be around him," Mariota said.
Tournament of Roses president Richard Chinen, a 1976 Punahou graduate, welcomed the teams.
The Ducks and Seminoles spent a chilly but sunny day at Disneyland before getting down to business in final preparations for the New Year’s Day game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The winner meets the victor of the Sugar Bowl matching Alabama and Ohio State in the Jan. 12 national championship game in Arlington, Texas.
Mariota, sporting about five days of beard he said his mother insists on him shaving off soon, said he enjoyed a four-day holiday break at home in Hawaii before returning to the mainland.
"It was great to be home, people were nice and respectful," he said.
When asked if he had a message for friends and family, he said, "Aloha and thank you all. I can feel all the blessings every day."