College Football Rankings: Andrew Luck and the Best Pac-12 Quarterbacks

Pat MarrujoContributor IMay 22, 2011

College Football Rankings: Andrew Luck and the Best Pac-12 Quarterbacks

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    The Pac-12 has always been recognized as the conference of the quarterback. Everyone knows the best quarterbacks are out West.

    This season, the league has an interesting mix of gunslingers. There are Heisman candidates, a few first-year starters and plenty more rising stars.

    Being the first year of the Pac-12, everyone has something to prove. The starting quarterbacks this season have valuable opportunities to make their presences felt in the new-look conference.

    Here is how they stack up against each other.

12. Kevin Prince, Junior, UCLA

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    Rick Neuheisel has been searching for a capable quarterback ever since he has been the head coach at UCLA. Unfortunately for him, Kevin Prince is the very best he can come up with.

    Prince has battled injuries his whole career at UCLA, and his play has suffered.

    Last season, Prince only managed to make it through five games. Of those five games, he only threw for 100 yards in one.

    Prince’s lack of production may not be all his fault, though. His offensive line did not do much to protect the young quarterback last season.

    He was sacked 14 times in those five games last year.

11. Tyler Hansen, Senior, Colorado

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    This two-year starter has not had much success at Colorado thus far. Hansen has had lackluster statistics and is still yet to play a full season.

    Last year, Hansen threw for just 1,102 yards, and six touchdowns through seven games.

    His statistics do not turn many heads.

    Luckily for Colorado, quarterback should not be the focal point of the offense. Running back Rodney Stewart is the obvious superstar on that side of the ball.

10. Zach Maynard, Junior, California

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    Zach Maynard has recently been named the starting quarterback by head coach Jeff Tedford.

    Maynard is a transfer who will be taking his first snaps for the Golden Bears this fall. Before he transferred, he was the starting quarterback at Buffalo, where he had mediocre numbers.

    In his last season there (2009), he threw for 2,694 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

    Do not be surprised if Maynard does not make it through the entire season. California is losing its best offensive weapon from a season ago in running back Shane Vereen. There could be a lot more added pressure for the quarterbacks to succeed this season.

9. Keith Price, Sophomore, Washington

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    I wish I could place Price higher on this list, but it is hard to judge a player who has had such limited playing time.

    When Price did play last season as a freshman, he looked solid. He is a very athletic quarterback who can throw the ball with accuracy.

    Do not be surprised if Price finds his name in the top half of this list at the end of the season.

    He and his team have plenty of potential and could be the surprises of the Pac-12 in 2011.

8. Jordan Wynn, Junior, Utah

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    This may seem rather early to see Wynn’s name pop up on this list, but hear me out.

    The biggest concern surrounding the Utah program is whether or not it will be able to handle the Pac-12 schedule. Tough games every weak, and no more cupcake conference opponents against Wyoming.

    Against the two toughest opponents on Utah’s schedule last season, TCU and Notre Dame, Wynn played poorly. In the two games, he threw for just a combined 242 yards with only a single touchdown and three interceptions.

    I am curious to see how Wynn will play against some of the tougher defenses in the conference.

    Clearly, I do not expect huge numbers.

7. Ryan Katz, Junior, Oregon State

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    Ryan Katz was Mr. Inconsistency last season. At times he looked like a future all-conference quarterback, while other times he looked like a UCLA quarterback.

    Katz is a decently mobile quarterback with a big-time arm. At times his accuracy is excellent, and at others it is not. That is exactly the issue with the young quarterback.

    With Jacquizz Rodgers gone, Katz will probably become the focus of the offense. That means it is time for him to show up.

    This is a make or break season for Katz.

6. Brock Osweiler, Junior, Arizona State

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    As the hype surrounding Arizona State football keeps getting louder, so does the hype about Brock Osweiler.

    Osweiler ended the 2010 season red hot. After taking over for the injured Steven Threet, he went on to throw 647 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in winning efforts over the last two games of the season.

    He is not what you would typically expect from a 6’8”, 242-pound quarterback. Osweiler does have a cannon for an arm, but he is also very mobile.

    With nine starters returning on his offense, including the entire offensive line, there are plenty of reasons to be confident in Osweiler next season.

5. Jeff Tuel, Junior, Washington State

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    Considering that he played on the worst team in the conference and was sacked 48 times last season, the numbers that Jeff Tuel put up were unbelievable.

    Tuel threw for 2,780 yards and recorded 18 touchdowns through the air last season.

    He is a solid pocket passer with underrated speed who is at his best when he is throwing the deep ball.

    Last year, wide receiver Marquees Wilson showed the Pac 10 what he was all about. He is Tuel’s No. 1 target, and they are one of the most underrated QB/WR tandems in the country.

4. Nick Foles, Senior, Arizona

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    Nick Foles made Wildcats fans very happy when he decided that he would return for his senior season. He is the person who makes their offense flow.

    Foles is a pure pocket passer who will pick defenses apart if they cannot get pressure on him. He has excellent accuracy and tends to make good decisions.

    Last season, Foles threw for 3,191 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he ended the season on a very sour note.

    His Wildcats lost their last five games of the season, including a heartbreaker against Arizona State and an embarrassing bowl loss to Oklahoma State in which Foles threw three interceptions.

3. Matt Barkley, Junior, USC

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    I am waiting and dreading the day that Matt Barkley breaks through and finally starts playing up to his full potential.

    He has it all. The strong arm, accuracy and even some speed. Unfortunately for the Trojans, he has not put it all together quite yet.

    That being said, Barkley was still great for USC last season. He threw for 2,791 yards, 26 touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 141.2.

    Barkley had a tad of a turnover problem in the past. Last season, he had five games in which he threw multiple interceptions. However, if he can get this problem under control, we could be looking at a Heisman-caliber player.

2. Darron Thomas, Junior, Oregon

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    I might catch a little heat for this one.

    In my opinion, Darron Thomas is clearly the second-best quarterback in the conference. This is a list based on how good the player is in college, not their pro potential.

    Thomas was a machine last season for the Ducks. He threw for 2,881 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing nine picks.

    Also, Thomas is the leader of the most dominant offense in the country. He has to make big-time reads and runs a very complicated system.

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford

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    It is tough to find a college football ranking on this website in which Andrew Luck is not No. 1. The reason is that this guy has it all.

    His arm is among the strongest in the nation, he can hit any target, he is speedy and he can even truck a defender or two.

    Luck threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns, both of which were the best in the conference.

    The runner-up for the Heisman last season, Luck is thought to be the early favorite for the award entering the 2011 season. If he can overcome the loss of his head coach and two top receivers, I don't see who else could be more deserving.