Athlon Sports: Jeff Tuel Is Pac-12's No. 3 Ranked QB

Jeff Tuel looked so young in 2010.

Each year, Athlon Sports does a series of conference-specific rankings that do exactly what these sorts of rankings are supposed to do: Generate discussion.

So it was with curiosity that I clicked over to the ESPN Pac-12 Blog to see how the Athlon ranked the conference's quarterbacks, since we all like to think that the guy who will be under center for WSU this fall is pretty good. Here's the list:

Rank Player Year School Notes from 2011
1 Matt Barkley Sr. USC Led Pac-12 with 39 TDs
2 Keith Price Jr. Washington Leads all returners with 8.5 YPA
3 Jeff Tuel Sr. Washington St. Played just three games; 2,780 yards in 2010
4 Sean Mannion So. Oregon St. 3,328 yards, 16 TDs, 18 INTs
5 Bryan Bennett So. Oregon 8.7 yards per carry on 23 attempts
6 Zach Maynard Sr. California Completed 57%
7 Brett Nottingham Jr. Stanford 8 career pass attempts
8 Kevin Prince Sr. UCLA Completed 56.1%, 1,800 yds in 11 games
9 Jordan Wynn Jr. Utah Played in just four games; 2,334 yards in 2010
10 Matt Scott Sr. Arizona Redshirted; 9 games, 461 yards in 2010
11 Mike Bercovici So. Arizona St. 3 career passes
12 Connor Wood So. Colorado Transfer from Texas; former 4-star recruit

My first thought was, "No. 3? That's way too high." But then I looked at the rest of the list and holy wow I did not realize just how much quarterbacking talent the conference lost this past offseason. As the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft next year, Barkley is clearly tops. And Price is clearly no worse than No. 2.

But after that? It's a whole heapload of question marks. If you consider the potential flashed by Tuel as a sophomore and the numbers he's likely going to generate as the trigger man in the Air Raid, I could see how he elevates to the top of that heap. I love Mannion's tools, but he throws a lot of picks. (Plus he won't be playing against a Chris Ball-coached defense again.)

Personally, I'd probably have put Bennett at No. 3. He showed me enough in spot duty last year to convince me -- and a lot of Duck fans -- that he can be Darron Thomas' equal this year. And if that's the case, he's going to lead Oregon to a lot of points once again.

As for the rest of them? All you need to know about the state of quarterback in the Pac-12 is that Maynard is in the top half, and a junior with eight career attempts is right behind him.

So what do you think? No. 3 sound about right to you? Or would you put Tuel somewhere else? And how about the rest of the list?

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