Before being sidelined this spring by a sore arm, former Husky Troy Williams was "probably in the lead" in Utah's three-man quarterback competition.
When it comes to their quarterbacks, Washington and Washington State are in rare company across the Pac-12.
The Huskies, with Jake Browning, and Cougars, with Luke Falk, are the only teams in the Pac-12 North with solidified starting quarterbacks returning in 2016. The same is true in the South, with UCLA (Josh Rosen) and Arizona (Anu Solomon) returning their starters.
Quarterback questions abound for the other eight Pac-12 teams.
Among the North teams, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford spent the spring sifting through quarterback candidates. The Beavers settled on a starter — junior Darell Garretson, a transfer from Utah State — last week; the Bears, Ducks and Cardinal will take their QB competitions into August.
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At Utah, former Husky Troy Williams was “probably in the lead” in the three-man QB competition before he was sidelined with a sore throwing arm earlier this month, coach Kyle Whittingham said. Williams made one start for UW as a redshirt freshman in 2014. He transferred to Santa Monica Junior College last fall and then signed with Utah.
The Huskies play Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 29.
“He’s exactly what we hoped he would be,” Whittingham said in a Pac-12 coaches call Tuesday. “He was very polished with his throwing mechanics. … He’s got Division-I experience; he’s taken Pac-12 snaps, and that’s why we recruited him.
“It was right at practice eight (of spring) when he went down with the injury, so he wasn’t able to finish spring, and that’s too bad because his trajectory was going definitely up and he was doing some pretty good things. He probably in the lead at time he did go down. … He probably the guy who was most impressive through eight practies 8 practices. Now they’ll all start at square one, on equal footing, in fall camp.”
Elsewhere, two former Seattle-area prep standouts — USC’s Max Browne (Skyline HS) and Cal’s Ross Bowers (Bothell HS) — are also in the mix for starting jobs.
A look at where things stand around the conference at the end of spring:
CAL: In the race to replace Jared Goff, the projected No. 1 pick in the NFL draft this week, Bowers, a redshirt freshman, is considered “a close second” behind sophomore Chase Forrest. Freshman Max Gilliam is also competing.
One notable takeaway from the spring from Cal coach Sonny Dykes: “The biggest difference is the size and strength and depth of our O-line. … The strength of the team is going to be the offensive line, and that certainly hasn’t been the case (in recent years).”
OREGON: After successful experiment with Vernon Adams last year, the Ducks returned to the Big Sky Conference to pluck away another senior transfer quarterback. Coming from Montana State, the 6-2, 195-pound Dakota Prukop arrived in Eugene in January and has had all spring to get acclimated to Oregon’s system. “You can definitely tell he’s played more football that these other guys at this point, certain at the collegiate level,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “He’s got a natural charisma about him.”
Prukop seems to be slightly ahead of redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen and true freshman Terry Wilson. Oregon’s spring game is Saturday.
Notable: Oregon hired former Michigan coach Brady Hoke as its new defensive coordinator, and he’s shifting the defense back to a more traditional 4-3 base. “It’s been great,” Helfrich said. “He’s kind of everything to be expected in terms of demanding but also a players’ coach and a disciplinarian. … That’s been a great balance.”
OREGON STATE: Second-year coach Gary Anderson named Garretson the starter last week. In 13 games at Utah State, Garretson had passed for 2,586 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before transferring to OSU last summer. Sophomore Marcus McMaryion is the backup on the Beavers’ depth chart.
Notable: What a whirlwind year for him Seth Collins. After opening the 2015 season as OSU’s true freshman quarterback, Collins lost his job, injured his knee and then signed a non-binding financial-aid agreement to transfer to Northern Illinois — only to back out of that and return suddenly to OSU earlier this spring. He’s now a full-time receiver.
STANFORD: Sophomore Keller Chryst and senior Ryan Burns are locked in a close battle going into the summer. Coach David Shaw said there is no clear-cut favorite, and he is open to the idea of both playing in the fall.
Notable: Shaw continued to rave about Stanford’s use of virtual reality, saying there’s “no question” it benefited his players last season. According to Shaw, Kevin Hogan credited for his breakthrough senior season. And Stanford is now using virtual reality at virtually all positions.
Also: Christian McCaffrey. He’s back.
ARIZONA STATE: Brady White, Manny Wilkins and Bryce Perkins are competing for the QB job, and all three split snaps with the first-team offense in the spring. Coach Todd Graham said “all three have been very, very impressive.” He doesn’t plan to announce a starter until late in fall camp. “It was a very close race all the way through spring. … I feel good about the position.”
COLORADO: Many questions surround the Buffaloes’ quarterback situation. The future of Tacoma native Sefo Liufau, CU’s starting QB most of the past three seasons, is unclear as he continues to recover from a foot injury. Colorado appeared to find some QB help with the addition of Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb, who signed a financial-aid agreement with CU. However, that agreement is not binding and other schools — reportedly Cal, Auburn and Mississippi State — are continuing to recruit Webb. “I talk to Davis Webb basically every day,” CU coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Almost every night. He’s told me every time he’s definitely coming to Colorado. I don’t have any other reason to think why he wouldn’t.”
USC: Browne, the former five-star recruit and Gatorade national player of the year, appears to have the edge over redshirt freshman Sam Darnold in the Trojans’ competition, but coach Clay Helton doesn’t plan to make an announcement until August.
Notable: USC opens the 2016 against Alabama. “I know this game is special to our players,” Helton said.
UTAH: Williams impressed, and Whittingham was also effusive in his praise for true freshman Tyler Huntley, the Florida Gatorade player of the year last fall. “He’s a quick learner and highly intelligent,” Whittingham said. “The way he was able to grasp the concepts and what we’re doing … and his athleticism is incredible.”