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Pac-12 football spring preview: One newcomer to watch on each team, per ESPN


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The Pac-12 hasn’t had any problems replacing talent lost due to eligibility, the transfer portal or the upcoming NFL draft.

Highlighted by Colorado’s No. 1 overall incoming transfer class, each team in the conference has reloaded in some form. Plus, the Pac-12 enters spring football with arguably the most talented group of quarterbacks in the Power Five, including reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, Washington southpaw Michael Penix Jr., Oregon’s Bo Nix and two-time Pac-12 Championship Game winner Cam Rising.

But still, there are plenty of new faces primed to make a big impact in 2023. Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s top newcomer as we enter spring football, according to ESPN:

Arizona State: QB Drew Pyne

Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne (10) shake hands after the game at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The former Notre Dame QB threw for over 2,000 yards with six touchdowns last season, giving new head coach Kenny Dillingham a reliable option at QB.

Cal: OC Jake Spavital

Sep 26, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Texas State Bobcats head coach Jake Spavital reacts during the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Not a player, but Spavital comes back to Cal after four seasons as head coach at Texas State. He’ll now lead a Golden Bears offense in need of major improvements.

Arizona: DL Bill Norton, LB Daniel Heimuli and LB Leviticus Su’a

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Bill Norton (45) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Although he didn’t play much in four seasons at Georgia, defenisve lineman Bill Norton figures to receive a significant boost in playing time at Arizona. Heimuli comes to the Wildcats from Washington and Su’a is an incoming four-star freshman.

Oregon: OL Ajani Cornelius

Nov 5, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Detailed view of Oregon Ducks football before the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Cornelius, a Rhode Island transfer, comes to Eugene to block for Heisman Trophy candidate Bo Nix.

Stanford: HC Troy Taylor

Sep 18, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; Sacramento State Hornets head coach Troy Taylor kneels on the sideline during the second quarter against the California Golden Bears at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Another non-player, former Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor is now leading the Cardinal. His first season at Stanford is expected to be a rebuilding year, however.

Oregon State: QB DJ Uiagalelei

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney congratulates quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) scoring a nine-yard touchdown against NC State, during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, October 1, 2022.

The Oregon State Beavers have finally filled their hole at quarterback with Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei coming to Corvallis.

UCLA: QB Dante Moore

Detroit King quarterback Dante Moore looks to pass against Birmingham Brother Rice during the first half of the Division 3 regional championship game in Detroit on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

The favorite to replace Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Moore was recently named the 2023 All-American Bowl MVP.

USC: WR Dorian Singer

Sep 24, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Dorian Singer (5) catches a pass against California Golden Bears cornerback Lu-Magia Hearns III (15) during the fourth quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Losing Jordan Addison and Travis Dye hurts a lot less with Arizona transfer Dorian Singer ready to become Caleb Williams’ top target next season.

Utah: WR Emery Simmons

Indiana’s Emery Simmons (0) runs after the catch during the second half of the Indiana versus Purdue football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.

The four-star Indiana transfer should Cam Rising provide a reliable option at wide receiver.

Washington: RB Dillon Johnson

Mississippi State QB Will Rogers (2) hands off the ball to RB Dillon Johnson (23) at the 2022 Egg Bowl at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss., Thursday, November 24, 2022. Mississippi State beat Ole Miss with a final score of 24-22.

After having one of the best passing attacks last season, the Huskies have now brought in a former Mississippi State RB to help improve their run game.

Washington State: OC Ben Arbuckle

Sep 24, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars run out onto the field for a game against the Oregon Ducks at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Arbuckle oversaw arguably the best Group of Five offense last season at Western Kentucky, which averaged 497.2 yards per game.

Colorado: CB Travis Hunter

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 17: Travis Hunter #12 of the Jackson State Tigers pulls in this game-tying touchdown in the final seconds during the second half of the Cricket Celebration Bowl against Jason Chambers #28 of the North Carolina Central Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

And finally, two-way star Travis Hunter comes in as Colorado’s newcomer to watch. Expect the former five-star to make an impact at both CB at WR next season.

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