Marcus Mariota’s reaction to being selected second overall in the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans was business as usual for the Heisman Trophy winner from Saint Louis School and Oregon — full of humility and quiet confidence.
“It’s tough to put all the emotions into words,” Mariota told a packed interview room at the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse. “It’s a little bit far away from home but I’m excited. … I’m looking forward to this next chapter.”
As expected by most, Florida State quarterback and 2013 Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston was selected first by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And a few minutes later, Mariota’s phone rang. He said the connection dropped, but eventually he spoke with Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
“Just talking about the future,” said Mariota, who was to leave Honolulu on Thursday night on a red-eye flight to Nashville.
Mariota, who operated out of a shotgun spread offense at Oregon, said he doesn’t expect difficulties adjusting to the Titans schemes.
As for Winston, despite some off-the-field problems that plagued him while a Seminole, the Bucs believed he was the most polished quarterback in this year’s draft. He goes to an NFL team that feels it isn’t far from being a contender in the NFL playoffs.
Meanwhile, around 250 of Mariota’s closest friends and about 50 media members were gathered at the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse this afternoon in anticipation of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Honolulu being picked earliest of any player bred in Hawaii.
Mariota said he didn’t know he was the highest pick of a player from the islands.
Mariota arrived at around noon and settled in for what most expected to be a short wait when the draft started at 2 p.m. Hawaii Time.
Most observers expected Mariota to be picked early, some predicting that he and Winston would be selected first and second by the Buccaneers and the Titans, respectively. And that’s exactly what happened.
Several national TV crews and reporters were among the media members in attendance at the Isenberg Street clubhouse, as Mariota decided to watch the draft in Hawaii and not attend the NFL festivities in Chicago.
“This (location) was in the plan all along,” he said.
Mariota was the eighth Hawaii-bred player to be drafted in the first round, and first since Tyson Alualu in 2010.
The two previous highest picks from Hawaii were Herman Wedemeyer (Saint Louis, St. Mary’s, Rams) in 1947 and Al Harris (Leilehua, Arizona State, Bears) in 1979, who were both chosen ninth.