Three years ago, Marcus Mariota was preparing for his last season with the Oregon football team, a season that would make program history.
As the Ducks’ star quarterback, Mariota won the program’s first Heisman Trophy in 2014 while leading Oregon to the Pac-12 championship, a Rose Bowl victory and an appearance in the national championship game.
Since then, the Ducks are learning how difficult it can be to replace an all-time great.
Oregon used senior transfer quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Dakota Prukop the past two seasons, and they have seen highly recruited quarterbacks Morgan Mahalak, Terry Wilson and Travis Jonsen transfer out of the program.
In fact, the Ducks are now down to two legitimate quarterbacks in returning starter Justin Herbert, a sophomore, and true freshman Braxton Burmeister.
First-year coach Willie Taggart would love nothing more than to land a stellar quarterback in his 2018 recruiting class.
Taggart has publicly put more pressure on the quarterback position than his predecessor, Mark Helfrich, who often said that he saw the quarterback as a point guard in basketball.
Taggart sees the quarterback as not only a playmaker and leader of the offense, but also a leader for the entire team to rally around. He has challenged Herbert to be more vocal and take on more leadership qualities, and he expects that from every quarterback who comes into his system.
In fact, Oregon has offers out to two pro-style quarterbacks and nine dual-threat quarterbacks for the 2018 recruiting class.
The bad news is that of the 11 quarterbacks, nine of them are currently committed to other programs. The good news for Taggart and the Ducks is that he has already flipped a quarterback since taking over at Oregon — he flipped Burmeister from Arizona in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Players who are verbally committed to a program have no real binding agreement with that program, so they can flip at any time. However, once a player has signed a national letter of intent, the player could lose a year of eligibility if the player decides to switch schools.
College football's national signing day for the 2018 recruiting cycle is Feb. 7, however there will be an early signing period from Dec. 20-22 this year.
Here is a look at the quarterbacks who currently have offers from Oregon in the 2018 recruiting class:
Cameron Rising (Newbury Park, California): 6-2 and 209; four-star; No. 8 position ranking (committed to Texas)
Michael Penix (Tampa, Florida): 6-1 and 182; three-star; No. 19 position ranking (committed to Tennessee)
Justin Fields (Kennesaw, Georgia): 6-3 and 221; five-star; No. 1 position ranking (uncommitted)
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