Where Bo Nix ranks among Pac-12 QBs according to Athlon Sports

It wasn’t long ago the Pac-12 was hurting for quality quarterback talent. But in 2023, the conference boasts the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in USC’s Caleb Williams, and next season, there could be four or five legit contenders for that coveted honor.

Athlon Sports went ahead and ranked the 12 projected starting quarterbacks that will lead the Conference of Champions in its last season in its current form. Both USC and UCLA are slated to bolt for the Big Ten in 2024.

Given the fact the Pac-12 will be vastly different very soon, 2023 could be the most competitive season in quite some time and elite quarterback play is a huge factor.

Besides Williams, Michael Penix, Bo Nix, Cameron Rising, and even Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei, who will be at Oregon State, could all claim a reason for going to New York after the regular season.

Caleb Williams - USC

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 14 games | 66.6% completions | 42 TD | 5 INT | 4,537 yards

Career Stats: 25 games | 60% completions | 63 TD | 9 INT | 6,449 yards

The reigning Heisman winner is an easy pick as our No. 1 quarterback in the Pac-12 for ’23. Williams was simply brilliant in his West Coast debut last year, throwing for 4,537 yards and 42 touchdowns to only five picks. He also added 10 more scores on the ground and paced all Pac-12 signal-callers with 17 completions of 40-plus yards. – Athlon


Michael Penix, Jr. - Washington

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 13 games | 65.3% completions | 31 TD | 8 INT | 4,641 yards

Career Stats: 33 games | 62.3% completions | 60 TD | 23 INT | 8,838 yards

Reuniting with Kalen DeBoer helped Penix deliver one of the nation’s most prolific passing seasons in 2022. The Indiana transfer ranked second nationally in passing yardage (4,461), averaged 8.4 yards per attempt, and tied for fourth in attempts per game (42.6). With Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze returning, Penix should have another standout statistical year, while also challenging for All-America honors in the process. – Athlon

Bo Nix - Oregon

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 13 games | 71.9% completions | 29 TD | 7 INT | 3,593 yards

Career Stats: 47 games | 62.9% completions | 68 TD | 23 INT | 10,844 yards

Nix had easily the best season of his collegiate career in ’22 after transferring in from Auburn. The Alabama native threw for 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns to just seven picks and added 510 yards and 14 scores on the ground. A late-season injury slowed Nix in November, but he’s poised to rebound from that and rank among college football’s top signal-callers in ’23. – Athlon

Cameron Rising - Utah

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 13 games | 64.7% completions | 26 TD | 8 INT | 3,034 yards

Career Stats: 27 games | 64.1% completions | 46 TD | 14 INT | 5,572 yards

Rising suffered a torn ACL in the Rose Bowl loss to Penn State and will need a speedy recovery to get back to full strength by the season opener versus Florida. Over the past two seasons, Rising has passed for 5,527 yards and 46 touchdowns to just 13 picks. He’s also added 964 yards and 12 scores on the ground in that span. – Athlon

DJ Uiagalelei - Oregon State

Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats (Clemson): 13 games | 61.9% completions | 22 TD | 7 INT | 2,521 yards

Career Stats: 35 games | 59.8% completions | 36 TD | 17 INT | 5,681 yards

Quarterback play is an area Oregon State needed to improve upon in order to challenge for the Pac-12 title in ’23. Mission accomplished. Although Uiagalelei didn’t quite live up to his five-star billing at Clemson, his ’22 numbers (2,521 yards and 22 TDs through the air and 545 yards and seven scores on the ground) were solid. Also, the guess here is he will benefit from the tutelage of coach Jonathan Smith. – Athlon

Jayden de Laura- Arizona

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 12 games | 62.5% completions | 25 TD | 13 INT | 2,521 yards

Career Stats: 35 games | 59.8% completions | 36 TD | 17 INT | 3,685 yards

De Laura’s arrival in Tucson helped to lead the way for a much-improved offense. The Washington State transfer threw for 3,685 yards and 25 touchdowns and added four more scores on the ground. The Hawaii native did toss 13 picks, so cutting down on the turnovers is a priority for ’23. – Athlon

Shedeur Sanders - Colorado

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats (Jackson State): 13 games | 70% completions | 40 TD | 6 INT | 3,752 yards

Career Stats: 26 games | 68% completions | 70 TD | 14 INT | 6,983 yards

Talent (four-star recruit in ’21) and production (6,983 passing yards and 70 TDs at Jackson State) aren’t a problem for Sanders. How fast can he adapt to the Pac-12 and the FBS level? Having former Kent State coach Sean Lewis as offensive coordinator should certainly ease Sanders’ transition. – Athlon

Cameron Ward - Washington State

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats: 13 games | 64.4% completions | 23 TD | 9 INT | 3,232 yards

There was a lot to like about Ward’s first season in Pullman. The FCS Incarnate Word transfer threw for 3,231 yards and 23 scores and chipped in five rushing touchdowns. But there’s also room for improvement. The Texas native ranked ninth (conference-only games) in quarterback rating (129.7) and yards per attempt (6.5). – Athlon

Dante Moore - UCLA

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Incoming freshman

With Ethan Garbers and Kent State transfer Colin Schlee in place, Moore won’t be pressed into the starting job right away if he’s not ready. But the five-star prospect in the ’23 signing class should eventually emerge as UCLA’s best option. Considering his talent, this might be too low on the list. – Athlon

Drew Pyne - Arizona State

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats (Notre Dame): 11 games | 64.6% completions | 22 TD | 6 INT | 2,021 yards

Career Stats: 15 games | 63.1 % completions | 24 TD | 6 INT | 2,257 yards

Arizona State’s quarterback room looks a lot different than it did at the end of ’22. Pyne (Notre Dame) and Jacob Conover (BYU) were added through the portal, while true freshman Jaden Rashada signed in February. Pyne took over as the starter for the Fighting Irish after Tyler Buchner suffered a significant injury in Week 2. The Connecticut native proceeded to throw for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns and added another 108 yards and two scores on the ground. – Athlon

Sam Jackson - California

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats (TCU): 5 games | 5-for-5 completions | 63 yards

Career Stats: 7 games | 6-for-6 completions | 140 yards

Landing Jackson as a transfer was critical after Jack Plummer and Kai Millner both left Berkeley through the portal. Jackson – a former four-star prospect – arrives at Cal after playing in six games over two years at TCU. During that time, he ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns and completed all six of his passes for 140 yards. -Athlon

Ari Patu - Stanford

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Stats (TCU): 4 games | 6-for-9 completions | 65 yards | 2 TD

Career Stats: 6 games | 14-for-25 completions | 113 yards | 3 TD | 1 INT

Patu is largely an unknown (just 25 pass attempts) and has to win a battle expected to feature true freshman Myles Jackson and Ashton Daniels under new coach Troy Taylor. – Athlon

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire