Jack Follman’s 2021 Pac-12 Spring QB Battle Previews

The Conference's top-projected teams will have multiple quarterbacks fighting for starting jobs

Posted on March 15, 2021

Jack Follman
  By Jack Follman, SportsPac12

Ah, Spring is here in the Pac-12, and that means we are going to see quarterback competitions start up all over the Conference.

This year is no different, as some of the League’s top projected teams for 2021, including Oregon, Utah, and Washington, will be having multiple QBs fighting it out for the starting job.

Here’s a look at how I think the battles stack up heading into Spring at the schools which are expected to have true quarterback competitions.


Arizona
Jordan McCloud | 247sports.com

Jordan McCloud, Junior

McCloud seems like the incoming leader in a wide-open race in Tucson. He started 17 games at South Florida and put up solid stats over the course of his career. He never showed anything spectacular there, but with everyone else around him having major question marks, he seems like a safe place to start for now.

Will Plummer, Redshirt Freshman

Plummer

Plummer started a game last season and saw a good number of snaps, though he wasn’t especially successful in his time on the field. Those game snaps on the team should give him a slight edge over Cruz as Spring starts, though, I think.

 

Gunner Cruz, Redshirt Freshman

The Washington State transfer and former Arizona high school star is big and has the kind of passing skills that earned him a spot in WSU’s QB stable, a solid testimonial to what he can do with the ball. That combined with him seeing a tiny bit of action in 2020 suggests he should be near the top of the competition.

Kevin Doyle, Sophomore

Doyle didn’t get any snaps over Plummer last year, so he definitely starts at the bottom of the competition and will have to work his way up.

Prediction: McCloud—When there’s no ultra-talented choice to develop here I think the guy with a lot of proven reps ends up winning the job.


Oregon
Ty Thompson | courtesy of Ty Thompson via OregonLive.com

Anthony Brown, Senior

The Boston College transfer stepped in late in the season in spurts when starter Tyler Shough started to struggle. He flashed well in limited time, and coming back for an extra year has him at the top of the competition going into Spring. He may have to really show that he’s better than the younger guys, though, as he has only one year left.

Ty Thompson, Freshman

Thompson

Some have suggested the blue chip recruit could be the main reason Shough transferred out. Thompson is big, with a big arm and good legs, and has the highest potential of any QB in the competition. As a player, his recruiting profile blew up this past year, with Rivals even making him a 5-star recruit, and he’s someone the Ducks will have to work with over the next 3-4 years.

Jay Butterfield, Redshirt Freshman

The 6-foot-6 passer was a pretty high four-star recruit when he signed, but really seemed to get lost in the buzz around Shough and Thompson. He shouldn’t be forgotten, though, as he’s got a lot of talent and could be an interesting choice, if Thompson doesn’t seem ready. The Ducks likely don’t want to start Brown, whom they could only build around for one season.

Robby Ashford, Redshirt Freshman

The super forgotten member of Oregon’s QB room, Ashford is a more of a dual-threat option than Butterfield. He’s another good four-star recruit in his own right, and should get a wide open shot to compete with Brown, Thompson, and Butterfield this Spring.

Prediction: Thompson—Brown might be the best right now, but I just don’t think he will be head-and-shoulders enough above Thompson, especially given his limited future with the Ducks. Though I will say, watch for them to possibly start Brown early; but if Oregon doesn’t beat Ohio State and become a serious CFP contender, then look for the Ducks to slide in Thompson.


Stanford
Tanner McKee | Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com

Jack West, Senior

West has played the past two seasons, and when he stepped in for Davis Mills against Oregon last year, he looked okay, so he’ll be the favorite to start. He will want to show more playmaking ability in the Spring, though, as he has yet to score a touchdown in his career, despite taking some snaps.

Tanner McKee, Sophomore

McKee

If you are looking for a completely out-of-nowhere Pac-12 player who could turn into a star in 2021, McKee could be a decent bet. The former (near) five-star recruit went on a mission and now has been at Stanford a while. He has a great shot to win the starting job as a very big QB with very athletic skills.

Prediction: McKee—McKee just feels like the guy with more upside, and he has the potential to be the best QB Stanford has had since Andrew Luck, if he puts it all together.


Utah
Charlie Brewer Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Charlie Brewer, Senior

Brewer is one of the more proven starting QBs to ever transfer into the Pac-12. He recorded a lot of wins, threw for a lot of yards and touchdowns, and was solid as a multi-year starter for Baylor. There is a lot of competition in the mix, but what he showed in the Big 12 should start him out as the favorite.

Cameron Rising, Junior

The Texas transfer started one game last year against USC and threw an interception before getting knocked out for the rest of the year, so we don’t know much about what he can do yet. The talent that got him an offer from Texas is there, and he’s been in the Utah system for a while now, so that should have him right near the top of the competition.

Ja’Quinden Jackson, Redshirt Freshman

Jackson

Jackson (another Texas transfer) might be the most-talented of the group. He’s a scary athlete at 6-2, 230, who can really run and make plays with his feet. He hasn’t seen the field or been in the program yet, the way Brewer or Rising has, but watch out to see if he quickly runs away with the job, just because he’s so electric.

Cooper Justice, Redshirt Freshman

The huge (6-6, 235) walk-on has impressed enough in practice that it’s been speculated he will fully be in the starting QB competition this Spring. He has high potential and could be a dark horse to steal the job, if not this year (because of Brewer), maybe next year.

Peter Costelli, Freshman

The four-star incoming freshman is intriguing because he’s the only scholarship QB on the team that isn’t a transfer, and the appeal of having a QB like him to build around for four years, as a guy who can truly get ingrained into the program, is appealing.

Prediction: Brewer—He did enough at Baylor to tell me he will get the start for this year, especially since the other top QBs are freshmen and the Utes might want to take a year to get them ready while they have a steady hand like Brewer.


Washington
Dylan Morris | Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

Dylan Morris, Sophomore

Morris surprised many when he won the starting job in 2020, and surprised even more when he performed as one of the Pac-12’s most-efficient QBs in his four games. He showed that he’s probably a pretty serviceable QB at worst, and that’s not a bad thing to have at QB in the Pac-12 in 2021. He might not even have had to compete for the job if Washington hadn’t signed a five-star QB in Sam Huard in the class of 2021.

Sam Huard, Freshman

Huard

Huard was arguably the top QB recruit in the nation in the incoming class, and has been regarded by some as the next Husky QB savior, dating back to when he was a freshman in high school. He’s one of the most polished and impressive passers you’ll ever see coming out of high school, so he will have a great shot at beating Morris for the job, though it’s been rumored that his family wants him to redshirt.

Prediction: Morris—I think Huard is eventually the Husky quarterback of the future, but he still looks a little slight, and I believe the smoke that his family wants him to redshirt. So unless he’s just far too ahead of Morris to not start him, Morris is solid and will get the job for at least a year.


Washington State
Jarrett Guarantano | ESPN

Jayden de Laura, Sophomore

de Laura looked like Nick Rolovich’s QB of the future, flashing star potential as a true freshman starter in 2020. However, a DUI has cast doubt on when he will be allowed to play again. He didn’t quite have the starting job locked down prior to it anyways, with Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano coming in. I’m not sure if he’s playing in Spring, but if he is, I still think he will get the benefit of starting as the Number One guy.

Jarrett Guarantano, Senior

Guarantano

Guarantano never quite lit the world on fire at Tennessee, and he might need to step his game up in his final year of college football if de Laura is eligible. Still, he’s a very solid and serviceable starter who could maybe even have a Gardner Minshew-like renaissance in an explosive offense like Rolovich’s run and shoot. He has a great shot at winning the job.

Cammon Cooper, Sophomore

de Laura’s struggles against USC and his DUI may have opened the door for the Mike Leach recruit to get back into the competition for the starting job. He could climb his way up if he can show a steady hand, and he has the advantage over Guarantano in that he still has three years of eligibility left to work with.

Prediction: Guarantano—I think de Laura’s situation opens the door for the grad transfer to at least win the job at the start of the season, but watch if Guarantano isn’t lighting it up; Rolovich may decide to give the more long-term option the ball back.




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