Spring football is usually kind of a letdown and bore, but there are some great position competitions and intrigue boiling all around the Pac-12 this year. With that in mind, here are some of the specific players to keep an eye on this spring around the conference.
Jeff Lockie Jr. QB Oregon
No player in the conference might have more of a fire lit under them this spring. Marcus Mariota's back-up the past two years looked to have the inside track to replace the Heisman winner, but all of that has changed with the transfer of FCS star Vernon Adams in the summer. Adams is now the favorite to win the starting job, but he will not be there in the spring and Lockie assuredly will do everything he can do grab a hold of the starting job before Adams shows up.
Morgan Mahalak Fr. QB Oregon
Lockie may have been the back-up last season, but many think that Mahalak actually might be the favorite to slide in and replace Mariota after redshirting in 2014. Seen as a similar player to Mariota, Mahalak was a bit of a late bloomer in high school (not starting till his senior year), but is fast, long, polished and poised. Like Lockie, he assuredly will try to make a major case for the starting spot before Adams shows up.
Travis Waller Fr. QB Oregon
The athletic signal caller with the live arm is a dark horse to grab hold of the starting quarterback position since he is coming in during the spring to get an early jump in the competition. True freshmen rarely ever win starting quarterback jobs, but the fact that the Ducks are bringing in Adams might suggest that they aren't in love with Lockie or Mahalak so Waller should be right in the mix with them during the spring.
Josh Rosen Fr. QB UCLA
Arguably the nation's top quarterback recruit in the Class of 2015, UCLA fans are anxious to see Rosen and they will quickly get their chance since he will be practicing in the spring. As I said with Waller, true freshmen simply rarely win starting jobs, but Rosen has about as good of a shot as you can have as a true freshman because he has the full physical package that seems to be lacking from the other quarterbacks UCLA has on the roster. If Rosen can quickly pick up the UCLA system and show poise, don't be shocked if he does a Jared Goff and wins the starting job in his first year.
Jerry Neuheisel Jr. QB UCLA
Poor Jerry Neuheisel, maybe it is the fact that he sounds like his dad and looks like an Orange County surfer, but no one seems to take him seriously as becoming the true successor to Brett Hundley at UCLA. However, Neuheisel is the only player in the race to replace Hundley that has in-game experience and his star turn in leading UCLA to a win at Texas showed a ton of meddle and made almost everyone around the Pac-12 at least learn his name. Neuheisel will have a bit of an inside track with his Pac-12 experience and three years of knowing the UCLA scheme, but he will have to show in the spring that he can outperform maybe more physically impressive players like Rosen.
Luke Del Rio So. QB Oregon State
There are a number of players vying to replace Sean Mannion, but I am just going to focus on Del Rio because he likely has the closest thing to an inside track. The Alabama transfer and son of Jack Del Rio was the back-up to Mannion in 2014 and saw action in 2014 in three games. Del Rio's arm strength and athleticism made him a big time recruit coming out of high school and he could be Gary Andersen's first starting quarterback if he can start tapping into what earned him an offer from Alabama this spring.
Cyler Miles Jr. QB Washington
Miles started every game of his sophomore season that he was healthy or not suspended for, but he failed to impress in big games and really struggled in the Cactus Bowl against Oklahoma State. He still probably has the inside track to hang onto his job, but everything that Chris Petersen has said about the quarterback position since the end of the Cactus Bowl has suggested that he is going to have to fight to hang onto it.
K.J. Carta-Samuels Fr. QB Washington
Carta-Samuels was the first quarterback signed by Petersen at Washington and has a lot of buzz building around him after being named scout team player of the year during his redshirt season. He has drawn a ton of praise from Petersen's staff and has equal, if not better physical skills than Miles so one has to think that he will have a chance at taking over the starting spot in spring.
Jake Browning Fr. QB Washington
Another highly-touted true freshmen, Browning obliterated high school records as a passing machine with great accuracy in Folsom, California. He isn't too much of a physical specimen, but his pure passing skills make him look like he could be Petersen's Kellen Moore at Washington and coming in during the spring for an early spot gives him a shot at prying the starting job away from Miles. If he can come in physically ready and pick up Washington's offense, he has a real shot at making an impact as a true freshman.
Gabe Marks Jr. WR Washington State
Marks was Washington State's leading receiver as a sophomore in 2013, but redshirted in 2014 due to some lingering injury problems, but should be ready to go again full steam ahead in the spring. The Cougars really need Marks to return to his 2013 best with leading receiver Vince Mayle gone so look to see if he can mesh in spring practice with Luke Falk and get back into being a feature receiver for the Cougars.
Travis Wilson Sr. QB Utah
There shouldn't be too much competition with Wilson during the spring with Kendal Thompson missing spring due to still recovering from injury, but this is Wilson's last spring to try and truly grab the reigns of the starting job in Salt Lake City. He needs to impress as much as possible this spring if he hopes to be the unquestioned starter in 2015 when Thompson comes back and if he hopes to lead Utah up another level in the hierarchy of Pac-12 power.
Canton Kaumatule Fr. DE Oregon
One of the highest-rated players signed by a Pac-12 program this recruiting season, Kaumatule is a 6'6 290 monster that enrolled at Oregon early to take part in spring ball. The Ducks have a major need for another big and long playmaker on the defensive line with Arik Armstead leaving early to the NFL and Kaumatule could be just the guy to do that if he can adjust quickly in the spring. Check out Kaumatule this spring to see if he can quickly climb up the depth chart and create a scary Hawaiian duo up front for the Ducks with DeForest Buckner.