Marcus Mariota to enter NFL draft

Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota has declared his eligibility for the NFL draft.

The Oregon quarterback announced Wednesday on the school's website that he would forgo his senior season. Oregon said that the redshirt junior filed paperwork on Wednesday, a day before the NFL deadline.

"After meeting with my family I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and apply for the 2015 NFL draft," Mariota said. "My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience. I cannot thank Coach Kelly, Coach Helfrich, Coach Frost, the rest of the Oregon coaches and the support staff enough for molding me as a person, player and student-athlete.

"The support I received from the university, the city of Eugene and Duck fans has been tremendous. I will always remember the great times and support I received. Once a Duck always a Duck. I will miss being with my teammates. Being a part of this team was something special that I will always treasure."

Mariota made the announcement two days after the Ducks were trounced 42-20 by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, marking a disappointing end to his otherwise stellar career at Oregon.

The versatile Mariota, who set a Pac-12 Conference record with 58 total touchdowns this season, is widely regarded as one of the top overall prospects in this year's draft class.

Mariota was projected as the No. 1 overall pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in ESPN Insider Todd McShay's latest mock draft. He also recently was tabbed as the top-ranked overall prospect by ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr.

In addition to winning the Heisman, Mariota also was named The Associated Press Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, among a slew of other awards.

"It's been an honor to watch Marcus develop over the last four years, and I'm excited to see what his future holds," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said in the release. "He's given this program everything we could have asked, and he'll be the standard by which others are judged. Mahalo."

Mariota had 42 passing touchdowns this season, 15 on the run and one touchdown catch. He also set the conference mark for career touchdowns with 136. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 41 games he has started in his career, the second-longest streak in NCAA history behind Marshall's Rakeem Cato (46). And he's one of just four quarterbacks in FBS history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 in his career.

Mariota was known for his steady demeanor from the start. Off the field, he was shy and unassuming, but he stayed on the field after every game to shake hands and pose for pictures.

Mariota said before Monday's season finale that he would trade his Heisman for a national championship, but it wasn't to be. In the final game, he threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns.

"I mean, it hurts," he said afterward. "You put so much work, you put so much effort into the year, and it's tough. It's tough to go out with a loss."

ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.