EUGENE - Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota emerged from the team's practice field Monday following the Ducks' fourth spring workout well after the rest of the team had completed interviews and headed into the locker room.
That's because Mariota was working on adding a new skill.
"A little bit of under center work," he said. "Stuff that will help me get prepared for the future. Just little things that can help."
Under center? Are the Ducks moving to a pro-style attack?
Of course not.
So that means the redshirt junior will turn professional next year?
"We'll see," Mariota said, answering the question with a smile. "It wouldn't hurt to get ready."
There's really no "we'll see" about it. Mariota will be gone after next season. He'd be a fool not to leave after being a three-year starter.
Enjoy him while you can.
This year's NFL Draft begins on May 8. Mariota surely would have been a first-round pick had he declared. But he said he hasn't given his decision a second thought.
"That's all behind me," he said. "I'm just excited for [former Ducks] to fulfill some lifelong dreams."
Mariota returned in part to fine-tune some skills to help him succeed in the NFL. He's also already added some size, beefing up to 218 with a stated goal of reaching 220.
He's also been working on his leadership skills, especially vocally.
"I'm kind of shy by nature, kind of quiet," he said. "Some of those things I have to remind myself that hey, you've got to speak up a little bit. My body language is another thing I have to work on as well. Coach Helfrich has really kind of pinpointed that on me to just show confident body language and be a leader."
His evolution has been fascinating to watch and he should be on the path toward a Heisman Trophy-caliber season.