The Pac-12 boasts a strong collection of signal-callers for 2017. Washington’s Jake Browning, Washington State’s Luke Falk and USC’s Sam Darnold clearly have a place among the nation’s best, while Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Colorado’s Steven Montez look to build off promising freshman campaigns. Josh Rosen’s return to full strength should be a huge boost for UCLA after a disappointing 4-8 record in 2016.
To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2017. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, previous production, 2017 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 for 2017.
Ranking the Pac-12's Quarterbacks for 2017
12. Chase Forrest, California
Finding a quarterback to direct coordinator Beau Baldwin’s high-powered offense is one of the top preseason storylines for new coach Justin Wilcox. Junior Chase Forrest and sophomore Ross Bowers worked as the backup to Davis Webb in 2016 and neither player received much in the way of playing time. Both players ranked as three-star recruits by the 247Sports Composite out of high school. Forrest is the projected starter here, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both players receive extended snaps during the season. True freshman Chase Garbers is the future at this position for Wilcox and Baldwin.
11. Jake Luton, Oregon State
Luton started his collegiate career at Idaho and spent two seasons with the Vandals before transferring to Ventura Community College for the 2016 campaign. The Washington native threw for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns in only season at the junior college level. He was named Oregon State's starter on Aug. 1 after competing with Marcus McMaryion and Darell Garretson for the starting job.
10. Brandon Dawkins, Arizona
With Anu Solomon transferring to Baylor, Dawkins is the favorite to start for coach Rich Rodriguez. The California native played in six games as a reserve in 2015 but started nine games last fall and ran for 944 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dawkins is still a work in progress as a passer after completing 98 of 182 throws for 1,348 yards and eight scores in 2016. He’s expected to be pushed by sophomore Khalil Tate and former MLB prospect Donavan Tate for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
9. Blake Barnett, Arizona State
Arizona State’s quarterback depth chart was riddled with injuries last year, as three different signal-callers took significant snaps. With Brady White still recovering from a late-season injury, and Dillon Sterling-Cole likely to redshirt, Arizona State’s quarterback battle is a two-man race between Manny Wilkins and Barnett. Wilkins threw for 2,329 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 246 yards and five scores in 10 games. Barnett started the first game of the year at Alabama in 2016 but transferred after four games. Former Alabama assistant Billy Napier takes over as Arizona State’s play-caller for 2017, which could give Barnett the inside track to the starting job.
8. Keller Chryst, Stanford
Chryst finished 2016 a perfect 6-0 as Stanford’s No. 1 quarterback. However, a knee injury suffered in the Sun Bowl against North Carolina prevented him from participating in spring workouts. Chryst seems to be on track to return by the opener or Week 2 against USC, with Ryan Burns or redshirt freshman K.J. Costello looking to win the No. 2 job. In 12 appearances last fall, Chryst threw for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns and tossed only two interceptions on 136 attempts. He also rushed for 159 yards and two scores.
7. Troy Williams, Utah
Utah’s passing offense should get a boost with the addition of coordinator Troy Taylor, along with Oregon transfer Darren Carrington at receiver. Williams enters his second season as the No. 1 quarterback in Salt Lake City and should build off a promising 2016 campaign. In 13 starts, Williams threw for 2,757 yards and 15 touchdowns and added 235 yards and five scores on the ground.
6. Steven Montez, Colorado
Montez is one of Athlon’s top breakout candidates at quarterback for 2017. He impressed in his first opportunity for playing time as a redshirt freshman last year, which included 10 appearances and three starts for an injured Sefo Liufau. Montez threw for 1,078 yards and nine scores and added 231 yards and one touchdown on the ground. He’s surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including the Pac-12’s top receiving corps.
5. Justin Herbert, Oregon
The Ducks handed the keys to the offense to Herbert after a 2-3 start last season and found the next star quarterback in Eugene. Over the last eight contests, Herbert threw for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns and added 161 yards on the ground. After gaining valuable experience as a true freshman last fall, Herbert is poised for a breakout season under new coach Willie Taggart.
4. Josh Rosen, UCLA
UCLA’s hopes of contending for the Pac-12 South title were derailed after Rosen’s season-ending shoulder injury in early October. All signs point to a return to full strength for Rosen in 2017, and the junior should be able to reclaim his place among the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks. In 19 games for UCLA, Rosen has passed for 5,583 yards and 33 touchdowns. He’s also working under a new play-caller (Jedd Fisch), who hopes to find a spark for a ground game that managed only 84.3 yards per game last fall.
3. Luke Falk, Washington State
Washington State’s high-powered passing offense is in good hands with Falk at the controls once again. He led the nation with 633 pass attempts in 2016 and torched opposing defenses for 4,468 yards and 38 scores. Falk also ranked fourth nationally by averaging 343.7 yards per game, while his 70 percent completion percentage ranked second behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Related: Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2017
2. Jake Browning, Washington
Browning guided the Huskies to the CFB Playoff in his second year as the starter and returns as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in 2017. Browning started all 14 games last fall and threw for 3,430 yards and 43 scores (a school record), while earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. Top receiver (and big-play threat) John Ross must be replaced in 2017, but Browning’s return should ensure Washington’s offense won’t miss a beat.
1. Sam Darnold, USC
USC was a different team after Darnold was inserted as the starting quarterback. After scoring just 16 combined points in games against Alabama and Stanford, the Trojans scored at least 20 points in every contest with Darnold as the starter and also eclipsed 40 points six times. Darnold finished 2016 with 3,086 yards and 31 touchdown passes and added 250 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He’s one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in 2017 and is a big reason why USC is one of the frontrunners to make the CFB Playoff.