Since the Class of 2023 Composite rankings debuted nearly two years ago, Malachi Nelson has been viewed as not just one of the best quarterbacks in his class, but one of the best players in the country. He was a top-10 recruit until 247Sports’ latest and final rankings update for the 2023 class last week, but still finished out as a top-15 prospect.

USC head coach Lincoln Riley was recruiting Nelson when he was at Oklahoma, and he immediately recruited Nelson to Los Angeles once he took over the Trojans program. With the 5-star thrower signed and enrolled and ready to roll for spring ball in a few months, USC has its quarterback of the near future waiting in the wings and learning from the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner.

In Lincoln Riley’s system. Chance to learn under a potential No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick in Caleb Williams. Chance to mature a bit before being thrust into the fire. Can’t really ask for a better situation than the one Nelson currently finds himself in at USC.

And it’s for that reason that 247Sports’ Josh Pate says he “irrationally” loves Nelson as a quarterback prospect.

He explained why on an episode of his Late Kick show over the weekend:

“I love Malachi Nelson, sort of irrationally. I love Malachi Nelson. I also like the guy he’s about to go play for in Lincoln Riley, who basically eats, breeds and pumps out Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback. He doesn’t play linebacker. Nelson is going to be fine. Whether he has to score 50 every week or not, that’s kind of a talking point about USC right now. He will not be leaned on to start as a true freshman because they have a kid by the name of Caleb Williams still there. From the situation to the skill that will be put around him and the guy he’s going to play for — I don’t think there are very many situations that are more tailor-made for success than the one Nelson is stepping into.”

A 6-foot-3 dynamo from nearby Los Alamitos, Nelson has a fluid throwing motion, the touch to place balls all over the field, the ability to throw from different arm angles, the mobility to make plays with his legs when necessary, and a ton of high school production. He threw for 2,690 yards as a junior and then 2,898 yards as a senior. He tossed 74 touchdowns in his final two years against only 12 interceptions.

“Malachi, I’ve always thought, was a really unique talent,” Riley said at his December signing day press conference. “His ability to throw the ball and process at a young age, he’s certainly well ahead of his years there and very, very impressive.”

We’ll have to wait a year to see what that looks like at the collegiate level, but that doesn’t make his arrival in Los Angeles any less exciting.

You can see the rest of Pate’s breakdown of his favorite 2023 quarterbacks below: