Marcus Mariota to forgo NFL draft in 2014

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Top NFL quarterback prospect Marcus Mariota will return to the University of Oregon next year rather than declare for the NFL draft.

University website reports that Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu will return for the 2014 season - both were expected to enter the professional ranks.

Mariota, an all-Pac 12 quarterback for the second consecutive season, is a redshirt sophomore and therefore eligible for the draft as he is three years removed from high school graduation.

Many experts had him rated as one of the elite quarterbacks in a deep class of 2014 - only Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is consistently grader higher.

But Mariota insists he's looking forward to returning to Oregon next year and fighting for a national championship.

"It is an honour to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates," Mariota said.

"I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great university."

The 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year has had another great campaign this term - setting the school record for total offense in a single season (3,994 yards).

He's completed 227 out of 360 passes (63.1 per cent) this season and has started every game of his two campaigns as Oregon starting quarterback.

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