Marcus Mariota discussed his high school career, motivation and fear to an auditorium full of high school athletes and their families on Tuesday night.
The Titans quarterback was the guest speaker at the second annual Tennessean Sports Awards presented by Farm Bureau Health Plans, which honored Middle Tennessee high school athletes from 25 sports at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall.
Mariota is entering his third season in the NFL since the Titans drafted the Heisman Trophy winner out of Oregon with the second overall pick in 2015. He has yet to play a complete 16-game schedule, but said he is not afraid to get hurt again.
“It is a serious question, and my mentality as an athlete will never change,” Mariota said. “You have to be fearless, you have to not worry about getting hurt. You have to focus on what your goal is as a team. The most important thing is as a team, your goal is greater than you individually. So with getting hurt, that’s part of the game. You can’t worry about it. You’ve just got to focus on how you can get better and healthy and get ready for the next season with your team.”
Mariota said his favorite moment as a high school athlete was winning a football championship in Hawaii as a senior.
“We were very fortunate my last season, my senior year,” Mariota said. “We ended up winning states. That entire run was an incredible journey. I had a lot of fun. A lot of the guys that I was close with on the team, most of my high school friends, I’m still close with. It’s funny. They’re the guys that are texting me when I’m out there at the Preds game, saying, ‘Why aren’t you drinking a beer?’ Or, ‘Why aren’t you flying a catfish out there?’”
“I’ve never had a sip of alcohol,” Mariota said, eliciting a round of applause.
And the catfish?
“Well a catfish is gross.”
One sport that scares the heck out of him?
“It’s kind of an interesting question,” Mariota said. “I guess I’d be nervous to skate and do hockey. Growing up in Hawaii there’s not a lot of ice.”