On and Off the Field, Marecic

Owen Marecic will never be labeled jock and will never be labeled nerd. He is the hybrid of athletic intelligence that Stanford breeds.

Marecic has proven himself a strong opponent on the field as a two-way starter for the Orange Bowl-bound Cardinal football team, and an impressive student with a 3.47 grade point average while studying human biology. That academic and athletic balance has earned Marecic a spot as one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, the "Academic Heisman," which will be awarded Tuesday night at the annual National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

The senior Cardinal's interest in biology began far before his academic career at Stanford began.

"I saw a human biology exhibit with my mom in high school about the human body where they froze the organs and showed every body part," Marecic said. "That got me interested in biology."

His knowledge of the subject was limited when he started his studies, but after taking a steady dose of biology courses, he quickly grasped the subject. He has interned at the Stanford Hospital, where he worked with the infections and joint replacement team. His studies focused on the risk factors for knee infection and replacement.

Going into his senior year he has found his niche, deciding to concentrate his studies on infectious diseases. Molecular and Cellular Immunology has proven to be Marecic's most difficult and challenging class. Marecic's favorite classes at Stanford have been Environmental Change in Infectious Disease and International Security in a Changing World.

As the only full-time two-way player in NCAA Division I football, Marecic has to maintain a difficult balance on the field as well, splitting time in offensive and defensive drills and meetings.

"I have great coaches about the game and patient teachers," Marecic said. "They develop the mental side of the game for me. I am playing with the best group of guys in the country. They take care of their responsibilities and I have the easiest job out there."

Nothing comes easy at Stanford. Handling the pressure on the field and in the classroom at a university like Stanford can be stressful. Being a success in both arenas requires a lot of personal sacrifice.

"It's all a part of it," Marecic said. "It's expected, but if you love it, you can do it."

According to the Stanford football website, Marecic is a student-athlete who "quietly goes about his business." Yet his accomplishments are of such magnitude that they should not stay quiet, which is why Stanford nominated the Portland, Ore., native for the Campbell Trophy. Formerly known as the Draddy Trophy, The Campbell Trophy is awarded by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame to a finalist with a GPA of at least 3.2, outstanding football ability, and strong leadership and citizenship. As a finalist for the award, Marecic receives an $18,000 scholarship toward his postgraduate studies. If he wins the prestigious award, the scholarship increases to $25,000.

"I am humbled and very honored to be a finalist," Marecic said. "I work with a great group of guys on the football team at one of the best programs and universities. I am honored to represent Stanford, because nothing was possible without my teammates, other students who challenged me, and my professors. This is a nod towards Stanford's excellence, not just mine."

Marecic's plan has been to just make it through the quarter while the Stanford football team is in season. At 11-1 and an Orange Bowl berth in hand, the schedule has been extended into the new year. When No. 4 Stanford plays No. 13 Virginia Tech in Miami on January 3, Marecic's fall quarter will be complete.

Before then, however, he still has some studying to do. As much as he would like to, Marecic will not be able to attend the The Campbell Trophy dinner in New York because it's finals week in Palo Alto. And when you're competing for the "Academic Heisman," there's no better exclamation point than pulling an A in Molecular and Cellular Immunology.

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