Marcus Mariota is gone. The three-year starter, the best player in Oregon history and the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Mariota was unlike anything anybody at Oregon has ever seen. A breathtaking athlete who could win a game with his arm, legs and will. Not only was he one of the most electric athletes in college football history, but he also was notoriously efficient in taking care of the ball. 

Needless to say, whomever Oregon names as its 2015 starter is going to have some legendary shoes to fill. In December, The Oregonian took a longer look at what it would take to replace a legend, but here’s a quicker look at the candidates. 

Jeff Lockie, 2015 redshirt junior

 

Unless anything drastic changes, Lockie will come into next fall with the best chance of earning the starting position. Lockie was 21-of-28 this season, throwing for 207 yards and a touchdown primarily in garbage time. He did have one incomplete pass in the national title game when Mariota was banged up, but nobody has really seen what the California native can do over the course of a full game. While he’ll get every opportunity to win the position, the Ducks have some high profile recruits behind him who are more physically talented. Based on conversations with people at Oregon, Lockie has shown dramatic improvement at practice this season from a year ago and is a player who is learning to make plays when needed instead of playing it safe. 

Morgan Mahalak, redshirt freshman

The redshirt came into camp this fall with plenty of hype. While Lockie was the No. 2 from the get-go, even he was peppered with questions about the four-star recruit. Many Oregon fans assumed Mahalak would be the heir-apparent, and it’s hard to blame them from watching his high school tape. Mahalak was ranked by Rivals as the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback of his class and the 21st-best prospect out of California. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, he’ll have room to grow into a bigger frame and has the mobility needed to run the Ducks system. Based on conversations with people close to Oregon, Mahalak hasn’t blow anybody away on the scout team this season. He hasn’t been bad, hasn’t been good. No peaks, no valleys. 

Taylor Alie, redshirt sophomore

Oregon’s current third-string quarterback, Alie likely won’t find himself in the mix for the staring position. The former Sheldon quarterback has only seen time during extra point attempts, being Oregon’s option for quick two-point conversations. Alie was 3 of 8 in the spring game with a touchdown, interception and 18 yards. 

Ty Griffin, redshirt sophmore

Griffin may be the wildcard in all this. A redshirt freshman who sat out the year after transferring from Georgia Tech, Griffin is the best physical asset the Ducks have at the position. He’s got a rocket arm and legs to match. In high school, Griffin rushed for 1,1149 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior, while throwing for 399 yards. He’s got the most talent on the roster, but is still raw in his development. 

Travis Waller, freshman

 

If the Ducks don’t pick up a transfer, Waller is definitely the biggest new name throwing his hat in for contention. A 6-foot-3, 185-pound four-star recruit from Anaheim, Calif., Waller chose Oregon over schools such as Alabama, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. Waller is relatively new to the position, switching from receiver to quarterback five games into his sophomore year, but has taken to the spot quickly. He threw for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior while rushing for 1,293 yards and 13 scores, then he improved those numbers as a senior. In his final year at Servite, Waller increased him completion percentage and QB rating, while cutting down on his turnovers. He’s planning to enroll for spring term at Oregon and will partake in spring practices. 

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