Former QBs making impact at other positions for Pac-12 teams
CORVALLIS, Ore. — The change in position for Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins seemed inevitable at the end of last season, when he was used in several roles in the finale against Oregon.
The writing was on the wall: Utah State transfer Darell Garretson would be eligible to play this season, and it looked like that was where the Beavers were leaning at quarterback. Collins decided to leave Oregon State and go somewhere where he could play at quarterback — but he never actually left school.
Instead, he became a receiver.
Collins has embraced his new role, joining a handful of prospective QBs across the Pac-12 who have traded positions. These shifts are usually out of necessity if they want playing time because another quarterback in the so-called "Conference of Quarterbacks" is established as the starter.
In Collins' case, he was named Oregon State's starter at the beginning of last season, coach Gary Andersen's first with the Beavers. Fast and athletic, Collins turned heads when he actually hurdled a defender in a game against Weber State.
Collins would go on to start seven total games. He threw for 936 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing for 580 yards and eight scores. Sidelined by injury for four games, he returned in the Civil War, lining up at running back, receiver and quarterback.
In adjusting to his new multidimensional role this season, Collins has caught 24 passes for 268 yards, averaging 11.2 yards a reception.
Last week Andersen said that senior team captain Sean Harlow had pointed to Collins' passion during a team address.
"In life, I love the word 'edgy,'" Andersen said about Collins. "I want to be around people that they might make you a little bit nervous. That's good. I love it. That's where you want to live, and there's nothing wrong with that, because you know that they're going to compete at whatever they're doing."
Oregon State, coming off its first conference win under Andersen last weekend against Cal, hosts Utah on Saturday. Collins will see another former QB, Utes safety Chase Hansen, across the sidelines.
A look at some of those former Pac-12 QBs — who actually played in a college game at the position — with new jobs.
CHASE HANSEN, Utah: Now a sophomore, Hansen was officially third on the Utes' depth chart last season behind Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson. A 6-foot-3 dual threat, he saw a handful of opportunities at QB. Part way through the season he was moved to safety by coach Kyle Whittingham, who said it was just temporary.
But Hansen did well in the new role. He started against Washington, where he had a career-high 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. A lower leg injury cut his season short.
This season, he's all-in at safety.
"He's playing as good as any safety in the conference," Whittingham said. "He's all over the place. He's a big-play guy. He's stripping the ball, he's recovering fumbles. He's doing a great job in coverage. He's physical. He's a great tackler. He's exceeding my expectations. I believed he was going to be very good. But I didn't know he'd be this good this quickly."
LUKE RUBENZER, California: Rubenzer competed with Jared Goff his freshman year and the latter obviously won that battle, although Rubenzer threw for a pair of touchdowns and also saw some time at running back.
Injuries to the defense prompted a move to safety when he was a sophomore and he recorded 43 tackles and two interceptions. This season, Rubenzer became a starter following the loss of sophomore safety Evan Rambo, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. He has 34 tackles, including 26 solo, an interception and two fumble recoveries.
DALLAS LLOYD, Stanford: Like many of the other converted quarterbacks, Lloyd saw his chances at playing time diminish with the rise of another QB, in this case, Kevin Hogan. After spot duty at quarterback in 2013 (he never threw a pass), Lloyd began his transition to the secondary his junior year. Now, as a fifth-year senior, he's one of the team's leaders on defense. He's had two interceptions this season to go with 23 tackles.
JEFF LOCKE and TAYLOR ALIE, Oregon: Lockie was the backup to quarterback Marcus Mariota and many figured he'd become the starter when the Heisman Trophy winner went to the NFL. But Oregon brought in graduate transfer Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington last season.
Adams' finger injury prompted Oregon to look at both Lockie and Alie, but both struggled with consistency. All three QBs played in a loss at home to Washington State last season.
The Ducks brought in another graduate transfer in advance of this season, Dakota Prukop, and Lockie and Allie were moved to receiver in the spring.
Interestingly, freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, who started last weekend in Oregon's 70-21 loss to Washington, credited Lockie and Alie for their guidance in the days leading up to his debut.