College football is almost here. The excitement is brewing, the optimism is flowing, and we’re sitting on some scorching hot takes that we’ve been dying to publish. Here we go with a power ranking of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12.
12. Jake Luton — Oregon State
Luton has a couple things going for him: (1) he’s very tall at 6’7 and (2) Oregon State is paying for his education so he can improve upon his 5:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It’s going to be a long season for the Beavers, but OSU fans should be happy with their baseball championship. If only they still had Adley Rutschman on the football team.
11. ??? — Washington State
After the graduation of Luke Falk and the tragic death of Tyler Hilinski, no one knows who will start at quarterback for Wazzu. It will likely be either Trey Tinsley or East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew, but neither have much experience in major college football. Maybe this will be the year we find out just how quarterback-friendly Mike Leach’s offense is.
10. Wilton Speight — UCLA
Wilton Speight comes to UCLA as a graduate transfer from the Michigan Wolverines. He has a strong arm and is decently polished, but he’s never been able to get the most out of his physical tools. Part of that is because of shoulder issues that bothered him in 2016 and a broken vertebrae that forced him out of most of 2017. UCLA is hoping he will bring a steady veteran presence, but we’re hoping for more of this:
9. Manny Wilkins — Arizona State
Manny Wilkins is cooler than he is good, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Wilkins is a mobile QB with an accurate arm, and though he struggles with consistency, there’s nothing really to complain about with his game. If Wilkins has a breakout year, it will be most likely be because of N’Keal Harry, the freakish athlete who could be the best receiver in the nation. It speaks volumes to the depth of the Pac-12 that Wilkins is this low; I want to hang out with him just so I could apologize to him.
8. Ross Bowers — California
One of the most boring QBs in the conference has the most exciting play last year.
That’s a full frontal flip into the end zone, everybody. What a play. Outside of that, Bowers is boringly average. He has OK arm strength, average to above-average athleticism, and barely remarkable accuracy. He’s not dual-threat, but he’s not a statue in the pocket. He’s not a short passer, but he’s not a Daryl-Lamonica long bomber. He’s fine in every way.
7. K.J. Costello — Stanford
Stanford has been in a QB desert since Kevin Hogan finished his surprisingly long reign as the Cardinal leader. Every variation of the Andrew Luck blueprint that they threw back there was disappointing at best. Now, they have their first exciting player in a while. Despite a nasty injury that kept him out of spring, K.J. Costello should be ready to go by the season start. He’s more athletic than anyone the Cardinal have had back there in some time, and is accurate enough to get the ball around the field. And, most importantly for Stanford, he knows how to hand the ball off to Bryce Love.
6. Tyler Huntley — Utah
It’s interesting to rank Tyler Huntley. In many ways, I thought he mirrored Steven Montez, if Montez was in a more conservative offense. But, as I watched him more and looked at his stats, I don’t think he has the same upside. His TD/INT ratio is concerning at best, and it’s made even worse when you realize that everyone played Utah with a stacked box due to Zack Moss. Huntley still has the tools to stay in the top half of the conference, but he needs to play smarter, not harder.
5. Steven Montez — Colorado
Montez will always be an enigma as he fluctuates between brilliant and head-scratching from play-to-play. Nonetheless, he’s ridiculously talented. Should he put it all together, he would be a star. If he just improves from last season — particularly his pocket presence and downfield vision — he should be one of the best in the Pac-12 .
4. JT Daniels — USC
Ride or die on the J.T. Daniels hype train. I (JB) am fully on board. I’ve always said, the safest bet in college football is an 18 year old freshman at QB. Even safer when that 18 year old is a man who apparently doesn’t have a full first name. Seriously, try to find anything online that says his name isn’t JT. I can’t. That alone is reason enough to put him in the top 5, let alone his pinpoint accuracy, unprecedented success in the hardest high school league in the country, and the best supporting class in the conference.
3. Justin Herbert — Oregon
Draft darling Justin Herbert has health experts worried due to how much scouts are drooling over him. To say that he is the Josh Allen of this year does a disservice to Herbert, as he is actually a great college quarterback as it stands. He’s a physical freak that should benefit from a more smashmouth approach to the game, as it will open up long balls for his rocket arm. The reason that he’s not higher is two-fold: Sam has a love affair with Tate’s game, and Jake Browning is productive to a level almost no one can match.
2. Jake Browning — Washington
It feels like Jake Browning has been around since before I was born. In his fourth year starting, Browning has led Washington through a dominant run that has included a Pac-12 Championship and a College Football Playoff appearance. He probably won’t contend for the Heisman like he did in 2016, but he may be the most experienced quarterback in the nation. If Washington is going to make a run at the Playoff once again, it won’t be without Browning leading them there.
1. Khalil Tate — Arizona
If anyone in the Pac-12 is going to win the Heisman, it’s going to be Bryce Love. But if not for Love, it would be Khalil Tate, he of the 30-yards-per-carry-when-your-defense-needs-a-stop. Tate is an absolute freak. He’s probably the best running quarterback in college football since Denard Robinson; he might even be better than the final NCAA Football cover athlete. Besides his absurd field vision, Tate is a solid passer — not great, but good enough to burn the defense if they have too many in the box. Tate isn’t as experienced as Browning, nor is he as good of a passer as Herbert, but he might be the most dangerous quarterback in college football in 2018.