The West region, and California in particular, is always going to be home to elite quarterbacks in every recruiting class. But in some years, like the 2018 class, the talent at the position jumps off the page.
California is loaded at the top, with Matt Corral, the nation’s No. 25 overall prospect, Cameron Rising (No. 106 overall), Tanner McKee (No. 142), Jack Tuttle (No. 265), Adrian Martinez and Brevin White. Elsewhere in the west, Jacob Sirmon (No. 16), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (No. 107), Cammon Cooper (No. 286) and Colson Yankoff (No. 295) mean double-digit quarterbacks from the region are already among the most sought-after recruits in the country.
It is reminiscent of the 2015 class, when six of the top 15 California prospects were quarterbacks and 10 West region quarterbacks were listed in the final ESPN 300. A few of those signal-callers -- namely Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Jake Browning -- could potentially dominate college football headlines this season and into awards season and the 2018 NFL Draft.
This 2018 crop knows that 2015 group well. That’s especially true for White, whose older brother, Brady, was an ESPN 300 prospect and the nation’s No. 4 pocket passer in the 2015 class.
Brevin isn’t shy in his assessment of the 2018 group.
“I think the 2018 class is probably one of the best classes of all time,” White said of his fellow regional quarterbacks. “There isn’t that one guy that stands out. It’s an all-around great crop of individuals.”
The 2018 quarterbacks were freshmen while the 2015 quarterbacks were seniors, and Tuttle, who played varsity as a freshman, remembers the older group well.
“When I was a freshman, I played against those guys in 7-on-7 tournaments, and I looked up to them a lot,” Tuttle said. “That was a really, really good class of quarterbacks, and we might be right up there with them.
"We all sling it pretty well, and we all compete really hard against each other and we have fun.”
The Pac-12 makes a point to own California and West region recruiting, and the conference has done well so far with this group. Corral made an early commitment to USC, Tuttle pledged to Utah, Martinez committed to Cal and Sirmon is headed to Washington. Of the group listed, only Rising -- to Oklahoma -- is heading somewhere other than the Pac-12 at this point. But the SEC. in particular, is looking to make things difficult for the Pac-12 in terms of keeping all the quarterbacks at home.
The group was given some validation recently, as offers from Alabama -- the current litmus test for high-profile prospects -- were extended to Corral, McKee, Tuttle, Sirmon and Thompson-Robinson. Tennessee sprinkled a number of offers around in the region, as well. While it would be interesting to see this group settle in neatly at various Pac-12 programs to keep the competition between friends going at the next level, the quarterbacks know it won’t be that simple.
The 2015 quarterback picture looked fairly settled heading into the summer, but Darnold eventually committed to USC, joining Ricky Town, who transferred out of USC before his freshman season began. Blake Barnett stayed at Alabama long enough to start one game; he is now competing for the starting spot at Arizona State, going up against Brady White and others. Zach Gentry was moved from quarterback to tight end at Michigan.
The 2018 group now knows what happened with that former batch of great quarterbacks. White said their fates should help this new group through their recruiting process, but it’s still difficult to figure out if something really is the perfect situation.
“I do think it’s something we should all think about,” White said of how things played out over the past three years. “I think kids will make decisions based on depth chart reasons, but you don’t really know where you’ll eventually end up. I don’t think Ricky Town and Blake Barnett thought they would do that. You just have to pick a place that’s truly a fit and maybe not the biggest name.”
Thompson-Robinson will take a long look at UCLA, which is in desperate need of an elite quarterback in this class to potentially replace Rosen as early as the 2018 season. The Bruins also offered Corral, Sirmon, Rising and McKee. Thompson-Robinson is receiving heavy interest from Oregon and Michigan, as well as many other programs. Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State are also still looking for quarterback commitments in this class and could pull from the local crop.
Now it’s up to Pac-12 teams to keep these QBs at home. Because if Tuttle’s breakdown is any indication and if the Pac-12 powers don’t secure them, they’ll be missing out.
“I think we could be one of the best classes of quarterbacks to ever come out of the West Coast,” Tuttle said.