Members of the University of Oregon football team did a hour-long media day at the Dallas Convention Center, featuring hundreds of credentialed reporters from across the country. Saint Louis grad, Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback Marcus Mariota obviously commanded the most attention.
“I think once you get to the stadium and on to the field, you know it will be an incredible feeling,” Mariota said. “You know, at the same time, you have to just got to control those emotions and try to play the best game you can.
“I had visions, I had dreams of doing this stuff, but actually to be part of it, it’s incredible and just an honor.
“Being from Hawaii, it’s such a unique place, such a special place,” Mariota said. “It’s a blessing for me to call home, the amount of pride each person has from there. I try to represent that and I hope I represent that in the right light.”
KHON2 was also able to catch up with five other Hawaii natives who all expressed a genuine joy and honor to be playing in the first-ever College Football Playoff title game against Ohio State.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Punahou School product DeForest Buckner. “It’s a blessing. I mean, a bunch of guys from Hawaii, we’re just really excited to have this opportunity to make history.”
Koa Ka’ai from Kamehameha Schools said “when I was in high school in 2011, I dreamed of going to a national championship — and that was the year they won the (Rose Bowl) championship — and to finally be here is just like a dream come true.”
“We’re lucky there were guys before us to lay the foundation back in the early 2000s for the guys back home,” he said. “We’re just happy this fruition has come through and that Hawaii guys are being noticed. We’re just proud of the state we’re from and people know that.”
“Ever since you’re a little kid, you grow up watching the national championships on TV, so to be here is unreal,” said Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia from Punahou.
“It’s a blessing to be here, you know, coming from where I from,” said Saint Louis’ Bronson Yim. “It’s just humbling, just to be around all of these people and the way we are treated.”
Even Mariota’s teammate from his Saint Louis years, Isaac Ava, got to play the role of a reporter during media day.
“Marcus, one quick question — what does it feel like to be the second best player from Saint Louis on this team right now?” “Feels great,” responded Mariota with a laugh. “I mean, it’s an honor ’cause you’re number one for sure.”
“I was referring to Bronson,” joked Ava. “Anything for the boys in Hawaii?”
“Thank you, mahalo for all the support,” Mariota said. “I appreciate everything you guys are doing for us as a family, and just thank you.”
After media day, the Ducks had a practice session on the field of Trinity High School in Euless. Interestingly enough, island music played through speakers.
The teams have no more media obligations, so they can concentrate on Monday’s game, which will be shown at 3:30 p.m. Hawaii time on ESPN.