WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – Five University of Oregon players, including the first freshman quarterback to receive the honor in 23 years, have been selected to the Pac-12 Conference all-league first team in a vote of the conference’s head football coaches, according to an announcement Monday by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who becomes the league’s first freshman named to the first unit at that position since USC’s Todd Marinovich in 1989, is joined by senior running back Kenjon Barner, sophomore center Hroniss Grasu, senior defensive end Dion Jordan and sophomore cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu on the Pac-12’s elite team.
Joining the quintet were Oregon senior linebackers Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay on the all-conference second team.
Earning honorable mention all-conference acclaim from Oregon were sophomores Jake Fisher (offensive line), Colt Lyerla (tight end), Terrance Mitchell (cornerback) and De’Anthony Thomas (return specialist); juniors Taylor Hart (defensive line), Josh Huff (wide receiver) and Wade Keliikipi (defensive line); and senior Isaac Remington (defensive line).
Mariota became the Ducks’ first freshman starter at quarterback since Danny O’Neil in 1991 and capped the regular season by being voted by his teammates as the team’s Most Outstanding Player, along with Clay.
The Honolulu, Hawaii native’s 2012 achievements have included setting the conference record for most touchdown passes by a freshman (30), becoming Oregon’s first freshman to throw for 300 yards in a single game (three times), and threatening the NCAA freshman record for single-season passing efficiency. With one game remaining, he stands three touchdown passes shy of equaling the Ducks’ single-season school record and is on pace to eclipse the Oregon school record for one-year completion percentage. Mariota has completed 218 of 312 passes (69.9%) while throwing only six interceptions, and is ranked fifth in the country in passing efficiency.
Mariota also was tabbed as the Pac-12’s Freshman Offensive Player of the Year.
Barner is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in the country, and is ranked fourth nationally in rushing (135.3 avg.) and sixth in scoring (11.0 avg.) as Oregon’s 15th 1,000-yard single-season rusher (1,624).
Grasu was vital to the success of the school’s running game as the second-year starter has been a key component in Oregon ranking second in the country in scoring (50.8 avg.), as well as fourth in rushing (323.3 avg.) and total offense (550.1 avg.).
Jordan is one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the top collegiate linebacker in the country. He has recorded 44 tackles this season, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 quarterback sacks.
Ekpre-Olomu leads the Pac-12 in passes defended (t6th nationally) and forced fumbles (3rd in the nation), in addition to being credited with 58 tackles.
Clay and Alonso rank as the Ducks’ top two tacklers at 92 and 75 stops, respectively, with Clay fifth in the conference in tackles per game (8.4 avg.).