JOE BIDDLE: Titans were won over by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota
In this Nov. 22, 2014, file photo, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Colorado in Eugene, Ore. Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner, has declared his eligibility for the NFL draft, in an announcement on Oregon's website, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes, File0

The Titans got their man.

To have and to hold. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. For better or worse.

The Titans have taken vows with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, taking him with the second selection of the 2015 NFL draft.

Mariota was the one quarterback prospect many so-called experts said would be a square peg in a round hole. In other words, Mariota comes in stamped as a system quarterback, having run a lot of read option, no huddle, hurry-up offense at Oregon.

That doesn’t compute with what Titans Coach Ken Whisenhunt prefers. Whisenhunt favors an under center quarterback, staying in the pocket, throwing long downfield at the right times.

To be effective, look for the two men to incorporate Mariota’s strengths into Whisenhunt’s offense and vice versa.

Whisenhunt said Thursday night he expects Mariota to be the Titans starting quarterback in Game 1 against Tampa Bay. If so, we may see the first two draft picks tee it up against each other as the Buccaneers grabbed Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the No. 1 pick.

I got the feeling that although Mariota may not have been the player General Manager Ruston Webster and Whisenhunt just had to have, but the more interaction they had before the draft, the more Mariota convinced them they were making the right move and that he would not disappoint them.

“The more time we spent with him, it just got better and better,’’ Webster said. “The whole group was really excited.’’

Yes, the Titans fielded calls from several teams, the Browns and Eagles, among others. But no deal was made, even though the Titans could have gained multiple picks in the draft by dealing Mariota. That tells you how much value the Titans placed on Mariota.

“We’ve got a plan and we’ve already started it,’’ Whisenhunt said. “You’ve got to push him. You have to challenge him. Obviously there are some things he does well and we’ve got to incorporate those into what we are doing. So it’s going to be a little bit of a blend. But he’s a talented young man, has a very good feel for the position and how to process those things.’’

Mariota has some Tennessee ties. He said his parents love country music, so he was exposed to it growing up. He named Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney as some of his favorites.

His grandfather’s sister lives in Tennessee and University of Memphis was the first team to offer him a scholarship. Oregon and Washington were the other teams to extend a scholarship offer to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

To avoid the pressure of the day, Mariota went for a hike in the mountains Thursday morning. “I relaxed. I hiked to a place that overlooks the valley I live in and it was nice,’’ he said.

No big celebrations for the Hawaiian native. No nightclubbing and ordering bottles of Patron as some former Titan players did in the past.

Instead, he was preparing to catch a red-eye flight from Hawaii to Nashville where he will have his first press conference Friday afternoon. Mariota has a keen sense of who he is. He is confident he can make the transition.

“You don’t know a lot about his offense,’’ Whisenhunt said. “You hear a lot about it, but the amount of things he had to do as far as being prepared to snap they ball. … the read option is what it is, but the quarterback has to understand who the end blocked guy is and why he is. He has to be able to communicate that to his line and that’s a big part of the process for a young quarterback. And the way he processed that and talked about that was very impressive.’’

I think Mariota will grow on Titans fan. He will eventually be judged on the football field, how quickly he can be an impact quarterback for the Titans.

The future is looking brighter as the Titans add more pieces of the puzzle.

If Mariota clicks, you can bury that 2-14 season.

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com

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