Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Monday, December 14, 2009
Locker will lead a deep class of QBs in 2010

By Ted Miller

Feel free to get excited Washington fans because it's hard to imagine the Huskies won't be a bowl team in 2010 with quarterback Jake Locker returning for his senior season.

Locker isn't the only reason to get excited either. The Huskies young crew of receivers, including Devin Aguilar, James Johnson and Jermaine Kearse will be as good as any unit in the Pac-10. Oh, and then there's 1,000-yard rusher Chris Polk and four starting offensive linemen, not to mention eight starters back on defense as well as both specialists.

Oh my. Is the purple beast again rising in Seattle after a lengthy slumber?

Yet this is bigger than Locker and the Huskies. There's a lot of experience coming back next year in the Pac-10 surrounding what will be an extraordinary class of conference quarterbacks.

Consider this list of eight:

Arizona: Sophomore Nick Foles
California: Senior Kevin Riley
Oregon: Senior Jeremiah Masoli
Stanford: Sophomore Andrew Luck
UCLA: Sophomore Kevin Prince
USC: Sophomore Matt Barkley
Washington: Senior Jake Locker
Washington State: Sophomore Jeff Tuel

Experience at quarterback is typically critical for winning the Pac-10. While USC's seven-year run atop the conference, from 1996 through 2002, changed a lot of previous patterns, the all-conference quarterback was a senior each season and his team won or shared the league title.

Moreover, last preseason, Pac-10 teams averaged 14 returning starters (including specialists). Next year, that number will be around 16 (sorry USC and UCLA, we don't think Damian Williams or Brian Price will follow Locker back for their senior years).

This season, the conference was as deep as it's been in years. It appears it's going to be even deeper next fall, and the battle for first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback may end up being a battle between All-American candidates.