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Ranking the quarterbacks Utah football will face this season. Is there a Heisman contender on the list?

From elite signal callers to well-known transfers to established starters, the Utes take on a wealth of talent at the QB position

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Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams throws during an NCAA college football practice Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Los Angeles.

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams throws during an NCAA college football practice Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Los Angeles. From elite signal callers to well-known transfers to established starters, the Utes take on a wealth of talent at the QB position in 2022. Leading the way are USC’s Caleb Williams and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

All things begin and end with the quarterback position in football — that’s just the way it is.

Here’s a look at the quarterbacks Utah is expected to face this season — barring injuries, ineffective, etc. — and how they rank compared to each other. 

1) Caleb Williams, USC

When Utah plays the Trojans: Oct. 15.

Williams transformed into one of college football’s top quarterbacks almost overnight when he took over for Spencer Rattler last season at Oklahoma. He followed Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC and is expected to be a Heisman contender this year after accounting for more than 2,300 yards (1,912 passing, 442 rushing) and 27 touchdowns last year.

2) Anthony Richardson, Florida

When Utah plays the Gators: Sept. 3.

In his limited playing time as a freshman last season, Richardson showed some serious potential and is already being talked about not just as a top college quarterback but a potential first-round NFL draft pick in 2023 if he leaves school early. His first true test? Facing a menacing Utah defense in the season opener.

3) Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

When Utah plays the Bruins: Oct. 8.

Thompson-Robinson, a two-time second-team All-Pac-12 selection, is a senior this year, and he’s shown steady growth in his college career. The opportunity is there for Thompson-Robinson to be one of the best quarterbacks in the West, or even the nation, and help the Bruins build upon an 8-4 record last year. 

4) Tanner McKee, Stanford

When Utah plays the Cardinal: Nov. 12.

McKee put up some decent numbers in his first year as a starter — he threw for 2,327 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It’s the hype surrounding him, though, that makes it difficult to rank where he lands in the Pac-12 QB shuffle. McKee is already being talked about as a possible high-end NFL draft pick thanks to his mechanics.

5) Bo Nix, Oregon

When Utah plays the Ducks: Nov. 19. 

Whoever gets the starting nod for Oregon — whether it’s Nix or talented redshirt freshman Ty Thompson — will face a tough task when they meet up with the Utes late in the season, especially after Utah had Oregon’s number last year. Nix — the three-year starter at Auburn who transferred this offseason — is the likely starter, though he has struggled with consistency in his college career.

6) Cameron Ward, Washington State

When Utah plays the Cougars: Oct. 27.

Ward could skyrocket up the ranking of top quarterbacks if he lives up to the hype after transferring from FCS school Incarnate Word this offseason. He threw for more than 4,600 yards and 47 touchdowns last season while earning FCS All-American second-team honors. The challenge will be how he transitions to the FBS level, and if it takes some time.

7) Jayden de Laura, Arizona

When Utah plays the Wildcats: Nov. 5.

De Laura stayed in the Pac-12, transferring from Washington State to Arizona this offseason. He showed promise as a freshman last season, throwing for 2,798 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 63.2% of his passes.

8) Chance Nolan, Oregon State

When Utah plays the Beavers: Oct. 1. 

Nolan was in a quarterback competition in fall camp, but after starting 12 games last season, he’s back leading the Beavers offense. If he can find even greater consistency this season, Nolan could take another leap in development after putting up solid numbers last year.

9) Emory Jones, Arizona State

When Utah plays the Sun Devils: Sept. 24.

Arizona State is replacing three-year starter Jayden Daniels, who transferred to LSU, with Jones, a transfer from Florida. Jones had his struggles with the Gators, though he accounted for 200 yards (152 passing, 48 rushing) and two touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ opening win over Northern Arizona.

10) Braxton Burmeister, San Diego State

When Utah plays the Aztecs: Sept. 17. 

Burmeister is on his third FBS program after previously playing at Virginia Tech (2019-21) and Oregon (2017-18). He went 9-7 as the Hokies’ starter, and that kind of experience could prove valuable for him in the Mountain West Conference race.

11) Brendon Lewis or JT Shrout, Colorado

When Utah plays the Buffaloes: Nov. 26.

More about this quarterback situation will become clear as the season gets going. Lewis is the returning starter — he started every game as a freshman in 2021 — while Shrout missed last season due to injury after transferring from Tennessee. 

12) Justin Miller, Southern Utah

When Utah plays the T’Birds: Sept. 10.

Miller is heading into his third season as the T’Birds’ starter, and despite Southern Utah’s struggles, he has put up good numbers. In the team’s season opener against St. Thomas, he threw for 364 yards and three touchdowns.