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Marcus Mariota shows something new for pro day

Former Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota eyes his target during drills at the Oregon pro day, which all 32 NFL teams attended.
Former Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota eyes his target during drills at the Oregon pro day, which all 32 NFL teams attended.
Published Mar. 13, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. — Marcus Mariota did something Thursday that he never did in a college game. At Oregon's pro day, Mariota huddled up, called a play, sprinted to the line of scrimmage, took the snap from under center and dropped back to pass.

The quarterback threw to each of the four, or five, receivers who lined up, one by one, before returning to the huddle and doing it all over again.

"It was a little different, but it was fun," said Mariota, whose ability to play in a pro-style offense has been questioned after his success in Oregon's spread attack. "It's unique ground for us."

Mariota took each snap under center, which is unusual at a pro day but it gave him a chance to alleviate concerns that he can't call plays or work under center.

Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, threw 67 passes at Oregon's indoor practice facility for a crowd of scouts that featured representatives from all 32 NFL teams. The Bucs, who hold the top pick in the NFL draft, sent three representatives, including general manager Jason Licht.

Mariota didn't participate in any drills aside from throwing. He finished with seven incompletions, throwing to a patchwork receiving group made up of seniors from last year's team and receivers from Oregon's past.

Mariota's first incompletion came on his 10th throw when he underthrew a short pass to running back Kenny Bassett. On the following play, Mariota completed a deep pass to former Oregon wide receiver Keanon Lowe in the far right corner. A small chorus of "nice ball" calls murmured from the scouts on hand.

Mariota said the emotion of being back in Eugene, after training in Carlsbad, Calif., for the offseason, might have affected his performance. "I think it might have caused some nervousness," he said.

Mariota also said he believed his NFL scouting combine performance last month was better than Thursday's pro day.

Mariota came up with the script for his play calls and throws a couple of weeks ago, Lowe said. The receivers and Mariota also walked through the plays four times in preparation for the pro day.

"He really took control of that workout, and I thought he performed well," Lowe said.

Though Oregon never ran a play from under center with Mariota in a game, center Hroniss Grasu said that this offseason wasn't the first time he and Mariota had worked on it. "It's always been something we had under our belt," Grasu said.

After Mariota finished his round of interviews, he jogged out of the indoor facility to meet with the Titans, who have the second pick in the draft. The Titans sent seven representatives to Oregon, including coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Mariota said he also met with the Bucs and the Eagles during the day.

When asked how he deals with the speculation behind where he'll end up in the draft, Mariota said he doesn't pay attention to it.

"You can't control it," he said. "This process is something that's controlled by other people. You just have to put yourself out there and show what you can do. "

The 21-year-old will have a private workout for the Bucs on Monday, reported. He also will visit the team's facilities on April 9, according to the report.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, whom the Bucs also are considering for the No. 1 pick, visited One Buc Place on March 4.

With nearly seven weeks left, Mariota is eager to get through the process.

"You get to a point where you get anxious to find out where you're going to go," he said.