The Pac-12 is usually home to some of college football's best quarterbacks and high-powered offenses. That trend should hold true once again in 2016, as Washington State's Luke Falk and UCLA's Josh Rosen are two of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Additionally, Washington's Jake Browning is poised for a breakout year, with Oregon's Dakota Prukop, Stanford's Keller Chryst and USC's Max Browne also expected to have an impressive debut in their first season of starting in the Pac-12.
With fall practice starting for all 128 teams, Athlon is updating its quarterback rankings from earlier this year. Here’s an updated look at how the projected starting quarterbacks in the Pac-12 rank for 2016:
To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2016. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2016 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 for 2016.
Pac-12 2016 Preseason QB Rankings
12. Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
Four candidates are vying to start for Arizona State this season, with Wilkins and redshirt freshman Brady White likely a step ahead of Bryce Perkins and Dillon Sterling-Cole in the battle to replace Mike Bercovici. Wilkins was a four-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. In his limited action, Wilkins rushed for 55 yards on seven carries and did not attempt a pass. White – the No. 67 overall recruit in the 2015 247Sports Composite – is the name to watch this fall. Regardless of who starts, Arizona State’s offense is in good hands under the direction of new coordinator Chip Lindsey. If there was a clear starter, we would move that player up a spot or two on this list.
11. Darell Garretson, Oregon State
Coach Gary Anderson didn’t sit idle this offseason after watching his offense rank last in the Pac-12 by averaging only 19 points a game in 2015. Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods were promoted to co-offensive coordinators, and this duo is tasked with helping Garretson get acclimated to the Pac-12 level of play in his first opportunity for snaps in Corvallis. Garretson isn’t without experience, as he threw for 2,586 yards and 18 scores in two years at Utah State. The junior should provide a spark and stability for the Beavers’ offense.
10. Troy Williams, Utah
Williams was sidelined at the end of spring practice due to an arm injury, but the junior college recruit (and former Washington signal-caller) is back at full strength for fall workouts. Even though the Utes tied for last in the Pac-12 with just 12 passing plays of 30 yards or more, there is optimism about the aerial attack for 2016. Most of that optimism is based upon the addition of Williams, as the California native thrived at Santa Monica College in 2015. Williams threw for 2,750 yards and 31 scores at the junior college level last season and was previously regarded as the No. 101 high school recruit by the 247Sports Composite in the 2013 signing class. There’s certainly upside to Williams, but he also needs help from an unproven group of receivers.
9. Keller Chryst, Stanford
Replacing the steady play of Kevin Hogan won’t be easy for the Cardinal in 2016. However, coach David Shaw has a couple of talented passers ready for their first opportunity at extended action. Chryst worked as Hogan’s backup in 2015 and holds an edge over Ryan Burns to start. Chryst ranked as the No. 51 overall prospect by the 247Sports Composite in the 2014 signing class and redshirted in his first year on campus. The sophomore may experience a few growing pains, but he can also lean on running back Christian McCaffrey until he’s ready to shoulder more of the workload on offense.
8. Sefo Liufau, Colorado
A Lisfranc injury suffered in early November against USC clouded Liufau’s status in the spring. However, all signs point to a return to 100 percent by Liufau for 2016, and that’s good news for coach Mike MacIntyre after Davis Webb decided to transfer to California instead of Colorado. Liufau had a promising 2014 campaign (3,200 yards and 28 scores) but took a step back last season, finishing 2015 with 2,418 yards and nine passing touchdowns. Liufau won’t have standout receiver Nelson Spruce to throw to this fall, but the senior should close out his career on a high note.
7. Max Browne, USC
Settling the quarterback battle between Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold is the top priority for new coach Clay Helton. While Darnold made a strong push for the starting job in the spring, the guess here is Browne holds onto the No. 1 spot. Browne was a five-star recruit in the 2013 signing class and completed 11 of 19 passes for 143 yards over the last two years. The junior has all of the necessary tools and potential to have a breakout season in 2016.
6. Dakota Prukop, Oregon
Vernon Adams was a dynamic one-year standout for the Ducks. Will Oregon have success once again with a FCS transfer under center? Prukop left Montana State as a graduate transfer and is competing with redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen for the starting nod this fall. Prukop earned first-team FCS All-America honors by the Associated Press after throwing for 3,025 yards and 28 scores and running for 797 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. Prukop isn’t as dynamic of a passer as Adams, but he brings more of a running threat to the Ducks’ offense.
5. Anu Solomon, Arizona
Injuries took a toll on Solomon last season, and the Las Vegas native was unable to build off a promising freshman campaign. In 14 games in 2014, Solomon threw for 3,793 yards and 28 scores and added 291 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, Solomon’s performance as a freshman was instrumental in guiding Arizona to an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. He was limited to just 11 games last season and ended the year with 2,667 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. Solomon seems poised for a rebound year, but he will be pushed for time by sophomore Brandon Dawkins.
4. Davis Webb, California
Jared Goff leaves big shoes to fill, but the late-spring addition of Webb should prevent a steep drop off at this position for coach Sonny Dykes. Webb left Texas Tech as a graduate transfer and has one season of eligibility remaining. The senior played in a similar offense with the Red Raiders, so the transition to California’s Bear Raid attack should be an easy one. In three seasons at Texas Tech, Webb threw for 5,557 yards and 46 scores. With Webb entrenched under center, the biggest question mark on offense for Dykes shifts to the revamped receiving corps.
3. Jake Browning, Washington
The continued development of Browning is a big reason why Washington is poised to challenge for the Pac-12 title in 2016. Browning showed flashes of promise and plenty of potential in 12 starts as a true freshman last season. He completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,955 yards and 16 scores and guided the Huskies to wins in four out of their last six games. Expect Browning to be one of the nation’s top breakout quarterbacks this season.
2. Luke Falk, Washington State
It’s a close call between Luke Falk and UCLA’s Josh Rosen as the Pac-12’s top returning quarterback for 2016. Do you go with overall production or pure talent? It’s a coin flip, but we give a slight edge to Rosen. Falk threw for 4,561 yards and 38 scores in his first full season as Washington State’s starter and was a big reason why the Cougars improved their win total by six games from 2014. With one of the nation’s best receiving corps at his disposal, Falk is primed for another monster season under coach Mike Leach.
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
As mentioned under Luke Falk, it’s a coin flip on the top Pac-12 quarterback for this season. However, we lean slightly with overall talent and give Rosen the No. 1 spot among Pac-12 passers. Rosen started all 13 games as a true freshman last fall and threw for 3,669 yards and 23 scores. Additionally, Rosen completed 60 percent of his passes and ranked fifth among Pac-12 quarterbacks with 22 plays of 30 yards or more. There’s no question Rosen can only get better as a sophomore and should benefit from UCLA shifting to more pro-style looks in its offensive scheme.