How do Pac-12 QBs stack up against the rest of the country?
Some sports discussions and assessments are not difficult to carry out. For example: Caleb Williams is the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and college football. Would anyone seriously doubt that claim? He’s the runaway favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft. He is viewed as a player worth tanking for, a player worth moving all the chips into the middle of the poker table to acquire.
After that, however, where do the various other Pac-12 quarterbacks land in a larger rankings-based evaluation of the nation’s top signal-callers? Pretty interesting question, right?
Here’s Patrick Conn of College Sports Wire, who goes deeper into this discussion with his rankings of the top college football quarterbacks heading into the 2023 season. Let’s put a spotlight on the Pac-12’s best gunslingers and see where they stand:
1: CALEB WILLIAMS, USC TROJANS
Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a ball on the sideline during the Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
What’s a QB rankings piece without Caleb Williams at the top? There is no argument whatsoever, and here’s what Patrick Conn wrote about the potential top pick in the 2024 NFL draft:
Williams had an absolutely ridiculous season from a production standpoint, which helped him win the Heisman Memorial Trophy. Given how he played at Oklahoma and USC, we might even see better numbers in 2023. If the Trojans can earn a spot in the College Football Playoffs, it will be on the shoulders of Caleb Williams.
4: MICHAEL PENIX JR., WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Nov 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
While discussing the Pac-12 signal-callers, Caleb Williams is at the top. After that, it’s a toss-up between Penix, Cam Rising, and Bo Nix. But, Penix has all of the tools to be one of the best in college football and potentially make a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
6: BO NIX, OREGON DUCKS
Oct 1, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) rushes for an 80 yard touchdown during the second half against the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks won the game 45-27. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Bo Nix returning for one more year should help him and the Oregon Ducks. Troy Franklin is one of the best pass-catchers in college football, and the addition of former USC WR Gary Bryant Jr. should help as well.
14: DJ UIAGALELEI, OREGON STATE BEAVERS
CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 01: DJ Uiagalelei #5 of the Clemson Tigers throws a pass against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second quarter of the game at Memorial Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
The former Clemson QB was a popular transfer portal player, but he came to Oregon State, further improving the QB play in the Pac-12. Can he lead Oregon State to the next level?
15: CAM RISING, UTAH UTES
Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) throws against the Southern California Trojans during the first half of the PAC-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Get this: The back-to-back Pac-12 champion quarterback is the fifth-best signal-caller in the Pac-12 That’s how loaded the conference is at the quarterback position. Drew Pyne, Cam Ward, and Shedeur Sanders are others who could make noise, not to mention Jayden de Laura. Oh, and the UCLA QB room is a talking point with five-star Dante Moore.
Rising’s return is exciting for Utah fans, but a three-peat in the Pac-12 should be looked at as a longshot.
OTHER NOTABLE QBS OUTSIDE THE PAC-12: DRAKE MAYE, NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
Sep 10, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) runs off the field after a victory against the Georgia State Panthers at Center Parc Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Conn puts Maye at No. 2, right behind Caleb Williams.
SAM HARTMAN, NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Dec 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) waits for a play call against the Missouri Tigers during the second quarter in the 2022 Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Conn put Hartman at No. 3.
JAYDEN DANIELS, LSU TIGERS
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) holds LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) in the air in celebration after sacking Daniels during the first half of the SEC Championship NCAA college football game between LSU and Georgia in Atlanta, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.
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Conn has Daniels at No. 11.
Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel (8) walks off the field after a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Kansas State Wildcats at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Kansas State won 41-34.
Conn has Gabriel at No. 12. Let’s see how Oklahoma fares this year in Brent Venables’ second season.