Kalen DeBoer made it clear this week that, while Washington is bringing in Will Rogers from the transfer portal to challenge for the quarterback job, the staff still has the utmost confidence in 2023 4-star signee Austin Mack.

When he met with reporters on Wednesday for his signing day press conference, DeBoer was asked about the messaging to Rogers as he enters the quarterback room. The expectation is the one-and-done Mississippi State transfer will step in and replace Michael Penix Jr. as the Huskies’ starting quarterback. But DeBoer doesn’t think Mack will go down without a fight in the competition.

“I think first of all I just want to say Austin Mack has been amazing this year,” DeBoer said. “He’s been everything and then some of what we had hoped for and expected. The guy’s going to play some big-time ball for us here in this program.

“He had just a great fall, got a lot of reps even in team sessions. Wasn’t just hanging out on the scout team. He was with us and you can just see what he’s capable of. Super excited about him.”

Rogers is coming off of a prolific four-year run at Mississippi State. He started 40 games in his MSU career — including 38 consecutive starts at one point. He’s the only quarterback in SEC history with more than 1,000 career completions, and he holds MSU program records with 12,315 career passing yards and 94 career passing touchdowns.

He currently ranks fourth on the SEC’s career passing touchdowns list and second on the all-time passing yardage list.

“Just a guy that knows the game, isn’t gonna walk into a stadium and be overwhelmed by anything, is extremely accurate as a passer,” DeBoer said of Rogers.

But the starting job won’t be handed to him.

“Will coming in, he just knows you’ve got to be on top of your game,” DeBoer said. “We’re going to play the best guy always. His experience and all that, there is a reason we’re bringing him in, too.

“It doesn’t just happen with the snap of a finger so we are certainly looking forward to working through the process with him this spring. I know he’s ready and eager to work and his experience, being competitive, and taking over a job. He’s not been the only quarterback in that program. There’s other guys that were always trying to knock him off. He’s put in some really good years there. Super competitive and has a lot of those intangibles that you want in a quarterback that we have certainly vetted out.

“We’re feeling really good about Will, and Austin has just been lights out. When I say lights out, I mean, there’s things he knows he has to improve on, but where he’s at as a first-year player just being here through the fall, it’s exciting to see his growth and development.”