Ducks set sights on 2015 season as time ticks on Mariota's NFL decision

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ARLINGTON, Texas - As the confetti fell for the national champion Ohio State University Buckeyes, Oregon running back Thomas Tyner made a prediction.

"We'll be back," the Duck from Aloha, Ore., said. "It's not over."

And with those words, all eyes look ahead to the 2015 season as the Ducks look to push the restart button on their national championship ambitions.

"It's always going to take effort, it took effort from the beginning," freshman wide receiver Charles Nelson said. "You know we're gonna get to work and hopefully come back."

"We got a lot of guys ready to work hard and a lot of new guys coming in," freshman running back Royce Freeman said. "I feel like it's just time for me to step up and you know kind of coax the younger guys, and we need to get the job done."

With playmakers like Freeman and Nelson coming back, the Ducks will be a contender again next season.

They could be in even better shape if quarterback Marcus Mariota decides to return for his senior season.

"Keep working, you know, the process that Coach Helfrich and these coaches and you know the rest of the staff at the university have put in place has been successful, and just continue to trust that, take it one day at a time, find ways to always improve and just take it from there," he said. Mariota has until Thursday to decide whether or not to declare for the NFL draft.

Despite the hope for the future, the bittersweet fact remains: this team will never be replicated as the seniors who were the heart and soul of the squad say goodbye.

"I just wish I could be around these guys forever," senior center Hroniss Grasu said. "But you know that's part of life, you gotta move on. I'll always be a Duck for the rest of my life. These guys are gonna get sick of me because that's how often I wanna be around these guys."

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