The final piece of the Pac-12 conference's quarterback puzzle fell into place on Monday afternoon, with Utah's Cam Rising announcing that he would return to the Utes for the 2023 season.
Now, we finally have a really good picture of who will be playing where, and likely starting from the very start of the year at the end of this offseason.
If you hadn't taken a look at some of the names, get ready to be impressed.
Guys like Bo Nix, Michael Penix, and Rising all but the NFL Draft off for a year in order to come back to college and compete for one more season. Then you have someone like Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams left with another year before he's even eligible for the NFL. On top of that, former Clemson star DJ Uiagalelei transferred into the conference, landing with Oregon State, while Shadeur Sanders followed his dad, Deion Sanders, from Jackson State to Colorado. If all of that wasn't enough, you've got 5-star QB Dante Moore, the No. 3 QB in the 2023 class, in line to potentially start at UCLA.
It feels pretty safe to say that the quarterback play in the Pac-12 is going to be pretty stellar next season, and there's a real chance that the conference as a whole is viewed as one of the best in the nation, with 5 teams already ranked in the preseason top 25.
To help us get a feel for who will be the best of the best out west, we wanted to look at each QB situation and rank them based on which team feels the most comfortable.
This will undoubtedly change over the offseason, so we plan to revisit it before fall ball starts. However, here are our early offseason QB rankings for the Pac-12.
Ari Patu - Stanford Cardinal
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 4 Games | 6-for-9, 65 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Reason for Ranking: With Tanner McKee declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft, the Cardinal are likely to turn to Ari Patu at QB, a former 3-star QB who hasn't had much of an opportunity to prove himself at the college level. He may end up being good, but without David Shaw at the helm, it's likely that Stanford remains one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 this year.
Kai Millner - California Golden Bears
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 3 Games | 9-for-15, 121 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Reason for Ranking: Millner showed a little bit of promise when on the field this last season, and he actually saw some time against the Ducks and had a bit of zip on the ball. I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up being a decent QB in the coming years, but this former 4-star recruit has a ways to go before he can be mentioned in a prestigious class of Pac-12 passers.
Drew Pyne - Arizona State Sun Devils
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats (Notre Dame): 11 games | 164-for-254, 2,021 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT
Reason for Ranking: Ranking Pyne this low on the list has a chance to be viewed poorly in about 10 months. He was solid for Notre Dame as a starter in 2022, but it's not like he was a game-changer for the Fighting Irish. Now that Pyne is in Arizona State with Kenny Dillingham, it will be interesting to see how quickly he can turn things around in Tempe. I wouldn't be shocked if Pyne moves up the list before all is said and done.
Dante Moore/Colin Schlee - UCLA Bruins
Colin Schlee 2022 Stats (Kent State): 157-for-266, 2,109 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT
Reason for Ranking: We don't yet know who UCLA is going to role out at QB, with it coming down to transfer Collin Schlee or 5-star true freshman Dante Moore. Whichever way they go, the Bruins should feel confident, but still have a lot to prove before we can put them in the upper tiers of the Pac-12 QBs. Chip Kelly knows what he's doing, though, and he certainly has a lot of talent to work with, no matter who he hands the keys.
Jayden de Laura - Arizona Wildcats
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 12 Games | 272-for-435, 3,685 yards, 25 TD, 13 INT
Reason for Ranking: De Laura is an incredibly talented player, but it feels like he needs to grow into his own a bit before we can move him up in the rankings. After a great 2021 season at Washington State, de Laura regressed a tiny bit at Arizona, but he still has a promising future ahead of him if he can put it all together and cut back on the turnovers.
Shadeur Sanders - Colorado Buffaloes
2022 Stats: 11 Games | 341-for-483, 3,732 yards, 40 TD, 6 INT
Reason for Ranking: Sanders in 2023 feels a lot like Cameron Ward did for Washington State in 2022. He absolutely thrived in a lower level of competition, but can he have the same level of impact in a Power 5 conference? With Deion Sanders bringing him over from Jackson State, Colorado fans should be excited and confident about their prospects in 2023, but I want to see how impressive this kid is against a higher level of competition before I move him up any more.
Cameron Ward - Washington State Cougars
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 13 Games | 320-for-497, 3,232 yards, 23 TD, 9 INT
Reason for Ranking: Speaking of Cameron Ward, I'm very excited to see what this kid can do in his second year with Jake Dickert up in Pullman. He has all of the talent in the world, and after a year of getting used to Pac-12 competition, I think he could make a leap in 2023.
DJ Uiagalelei - Oregon State Beavers
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 13 Games | 229-for-370, 2,521 yards, 22 TD, 7 INT
Reason for Ranking: The one thing that Oregon State needed to go to the next level was a viable quarterback option. I think they got that in DJU. After a tough 2021 season, Uiagalelei had 22 TD and 7 INT for Clemson in 2022, and he will now try to elevate the Beavers' already solid 2023 prospects. If he plays to his potential, Oregon State is a serious CFP contender.
Cam Rising - Utah Utes
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 13 Games | 249-for-385, 3,034 yards, 26 TD, 8 INT
Reason for Ranking: It feels strange to look at those numbers from 2022 and consider that it was almost viewed as a disappointing season for Rising. His decision to come back for the 2023 season undoubtedly makes the Pac-12 slate more fun, and he will vie for the top spot in the conference QB power rankings each and every week. With Rising, Utah is a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 title and a CFP spot going forward.
Bo Nix - Oregon Ducks
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 13 Games | 294-for-409, 3,593 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT
Reason for Ranking: Before he got injured near the end of the 2022 season, Nix was a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender and the Ducks had Rose Bowl aspirations with an outside chance of making it into the College Football Playoff. With Nix returning for another season, all of that is possible once again. The only reason why he isn't higher than the next person on this list is because of the unknown relationship between Nix and new Oregon OC Will Stein. The connection between Kenny Dillingham and Nix was rock solid, so until we see how the new QB/OC duo will work in Eugene, I'm trying to temper expectations.
Michael Penix Jr. - Washington Huskies
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 13 Games | 362-for-554, 4,641 yards, 31 TD, 8 INT
Reason for Ranking: It's hard to get much better than Michael Penix Jr., and in most conferences, he would be the best QB on the board. The Pac-12 is not most conferences this year, though. Regardless, Penix is a legitimate Heisman contender going into 2023, and with another year under Kalen DeBoer, the Huskies should be viewed as one of the preeminent teams in the nation.
Caleb Williams - USC Trojans
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2022 Stats: 14 Games | 333-for-500, 4537 yards, 42 TD, 5 INT
Reason for Ranking: I mean, if you win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and come back for another season, you have to be put at the top of the list, right? It's clear that Williams is among the best players in all of college football, and another year under Lincoln Riley is likely to produce something special. There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but Williams is hands down the best of the best.
Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire
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