Marcus Mariota went down his pre-written list of everyone he wanted to thank for helping him win the 2014 Heisman Trophy. He choked up midway through the speech, knowing that he couldn't get to everyone.
That's because the Oregon quarterback had an entire state to thank.
"In Hawaii, if one person is successful, the entire state is successful," said Mariota, draped in Hawaiian and Samoan leis, at a press conference shortly after winning the 80th Heisman Trophy and becoming the first winner to hail from the Aloha State. "To be part of that is something special. I wish I could give them more thanks."
To call Mariota's victory a landslide would be an understatement. The redshirt junior totaled 2,534 total points, including 788 first-place votes. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon took second with 1,250 votes, and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper had 1,023 votes to come in third place.
Mariota was on a record 95.16 percent of ballots and received 90.92 percent of the total possible points, second all-time to Troy Smith (91.63 percent). He became the 13th quarterback in the last 15 years to win the Heisman, but he quickly made sure to give credit to the rest of his team.
"To all my teammates, I love every single one of you and I'm truly grateful for all the experiences," he said during his acceptance speech. "I hope each of you will take pride and understand that this is your trophy."
Of course, Mariota certainly earned the hardware. The preseason Heisman favorite threw for 3,783 yards, 38 touchdowns and just two interceptions and was the driving force behind Oregon’s 12-1 season. He leads the FBS in passing efficiency with a 186.3 rating. He also ran for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns and even caught a 26-yard touchdown pass as the Ducks earned the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff.
His opponent for that New Year's Day semifinal? Florida State and 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
Said Mariota: "I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field and playing again."
It's par for the course for the soft-spoken Mariota, who likely will wind up being a top-five pick -- if not the No. 1 overall pick -- should he declare for the NFL draft. There have been reports quoting anonymous scouts that say Mariota is not an "alpha male" because of his quiet personality, but Mariota looks at it differently.
"I believe there are different kinds of leadership," Mariota said. "Showing you care means so much more than yelling at someone."
Whether it was about his leadership style or his on-field talent, the other finalists had nothing but glowing things to say about Mariota. Gordon, who ran for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns, said Friday he saw Mariota play against Michigan State -- Gordon’s high school teammate, Trae Waynes, is a cornerback for the Spartans -- and came away impressed.
“[Mariota] threw to his side. He did some crazy things against that Michigan State defense, which is a great defense. He played phenomenal against them.”
Cooper, who was trying to become just the third wide receiver to win the Heisman, said that he hasn’t watched Mariota play, but he noted the quarterback’s role on offense and his production thus far.
Said Cooper: “Quarterbacks have such a huge responsibility out there on the field, so I think Marcus deserves the trophy.”