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2015 Recruiting Class Will Mark the Beginning of a New Golden Era of Pac-12 QBs

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2015 Recruiting Class Will Mark the Beginning of a New Golden Era of Pac-12 QBs
247sports.com

The Pac-12 appears poised to challenge for postseason supremacy in the coming years, courtesy of an impressive influx of talent at the sport's most pivotal position. A slew of star quarterback commitments have set the stage for a thrilling era of high-scoring showdowns, recharged rivalries and Heisman Trophy campaigns.

Conference administrators can extend their thanks to the state of California, home to seven of the top 12 passers in 247Sports' class of 2015 rankings. Among them, five are currently committed to Pac-12 programs.

Defensive coordinators may want to get out of the conference while they still can.

"They're all great quarterbacks, and it's awesome to represent our state so well in this class," UCLA pledge Josh Rosen said.

The 5-star prospect was one of seven California recruits invited to attend the Elite 11 finals at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. After competing in the heralded national quarterback competition, each Golden State standout is sticking around for The Opening, a three-day camp that features more than 150 of the country's premier high school players.

"There's great competition in California," said Sam Darnold, a rising senior at San Clemente High School who is considering USC, Utah and Oregon. "You can see that with the amount of guys out here for the Elite 11."

Texas, California and Florida seem to perennially compete for the title of most talented football state, but when it comes to quarterbacks right now, the West Coast reigns supreme.

Rosen, who threw 39 touchdowns and won a state title last fall, believes the Pac-12 is in position to climb among the conference hierarchy. A newfound commitment to defending home turf is key to the process, according to the St. John Bosco High School star.

"It's important to keep players close to home, and that's what's happening," Rosen said. "I think that's what the South and the East Coast do so well. They keep their best guys. Lately, West Coast players have been staying out here more. It gives us a chance to prove the Pac-12's rightful place among the ranks of the SEC, ACC and all the others."

5-Star Prospects Per Conference
Year SEC Pac-12 Big Ten ACC Big 12
2012 13 6 2 8 2
2013 16 6 3 3 3
2014 19 3 4 5 2
2015 (incomplete) 8 3 1 2 0
Four-year total 56 18 10 18 7

247Sports Composite Rankings

In order to maintain conference momentum, top-caliber coaches are a must. Pac-12 schools have managed to acquire and hold onto some of the biggest names in the business.

Jim Mora has rebuilt his reputation at UCLA following an up-and-down NFL tenure. While USC dealt with severe sanctions and questions about Lane Kiffin's future, Mora was busy establishing a fresh image for the Bruins.

Some wondered if Stanford coach David Shaw could shoulder the load after dealing with the departures of Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck. He's answered the critics, winning consecutive Pac-12 titles and turning down other high-profile job opportunities.

Rich Rodriguez arrived at Arizona fresh off a demoralizing end to his tenure at Michigan. While he has strides to make before his star shines as bright as it did at West Virginia, Rodriguez and the Wildcats are on the right track.

Steve Sarkisian returned to USC late last year after steadily bringing Washington back to respectability. The Huskies responded by prying Chris Petersen away from Boise State after several other schools attempted to lure him away and failed.

These coaches are now reaping the benefits of their diligence, and a strong California quarterback class has responded by predominantly staying in the region.

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Petersen quickly pounced on 4-star prospect Jake Browning, while Sarkisian managed to flip 5-star recruit Ricky Town away from Alabama in late January.

Town and Rosen, the top-ranked pro-style quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, have fueled a new chapter in the longstanding rivalry between crosstown foes USC and UCLA. If both players pan out at the next level, their matchups will be highly anticipated on an annual basis.

"I think people have kind of forced that rivalry on us, and they'll continue to do that with Josh going to UCLA and me going to USC," Town said. "We just try to have fun and embrace it."

They aren't the only two who can expect to be embroiled in Pac-12 battles against regional quarterback contemporaries.

"When we play each other, the media will make it out to be a quarterback battle and try to build up a rivalry part of it," 4-star Arizona State commit Brady White said. "But Rosen and Town will be playing the Sun Devils defense; I'll be facing the Bruins and Trojans defense. Sure, there's going to be talk about a rivalry, but my only concern is trying to get our team a win."

New Oregon commit Travis Waller echoed that sentiment. Still, the Anaheim product anticipates some extra adrenaline when he lines up across the field from a fellow member of this special in-state class.

"It will be crazy when we all play each other," Waller said. "I'll be going all out because I want those bragging rights. I want to be able to say, 'We beat you guys. The Oregon Ducks take the win again.' I'm looking forward to those matchups."

The rest of the nation should be, too. There's a strong chance we'll see multiple All-American contenders and NFL draft picks emerge from a group that has college coaches across the country journeying to the West Coast.

The Pac-12 has a chance to capitalize on this rare collection of quarterback talent in its backyard. So far, conference members have hit on a high percentage of targets, which bodes extremely well for the future of its fans and programs alike.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

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