UCLA Football: Top 10 Quarterbacks in School History

Jason FrayCorrespondent IApril 4, 2012

UCLA Football: Top 10 Quarterbacks in School History

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    The fraternity of UCLA quarterbacks is quite an impressive list. 

    The group includes Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl champions, All-Conference performers and long-time NFL stalwarts.

    Let's take a look at the top 10 quarterbacks to play at UCLA.

     

    Honorable mentions: Tommy Maddox, Rick Neuheisel, David Norrie

Troy Aikman (1987-88)

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    Without a doubt, Troy Aikman is the most high-profile member of this list.

    The Oklahoma transfer proved to be a force during this two-year stint in Westwood.

    He threw for a staggering 5,298 yards to go along with 41 touchdowns. The team's record under Aikman in two seasons was an impressive 22-4.

    As a junior, Aikman won the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. The next season, he won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback.

    He parlayed a wonderful college career into being the top overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. 

    A six-time Pro Bowler, Aikman helped the Cowboys to glory on the gridiron.

    During his career, Aikman led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles. His outstanding play made him an instant fan favorite, and he often displayed an "it" factor that helped to shape him as a special player.

    Aikman's career totals of 165 touchdown passes and 32,942 passing yards helped to make him an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

    The combination of both his college and professional career make him arguably the best quarterback to ever come out of UCLA. 

Gary Beban (1964-67)

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    Gary Beban's career as a Bruin should be characterized as simply fantastic.

    Between 1965-67, Beban amassed a 23-5-2 record. He not only threw for 23 touchdowns, but he also ran for 35 more. His total career yardage of 5,358 has him in the top five of all former UCLA quarterbacks.

    With his impressive skill set, he truly epitomized what a dual-threat quarterback brings to the table.

    In 1967, Beban was named as a unanimous All-American. He was also the winner of the Maxwell Award, given annually to the best player in America. 

    His best achievement was being named as the 1967 Heisman Trophy winner. To this day, he is the only UCLA Bruin to ever win the award.

    Beban had a less-than-stellar professional career, but that doesn't take away from his excellence as a Bruin. 

Steve Bono (1980-84)

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    Steve Bono didn't display an eye-popping statistical output during his time at UCLA, but he did provide the Bruins with some great moments.

    Perhaps Bono's best moment in college was when he helped UCLA to win the 1985 Fiesta Bowl over the Miami Hurricanes and their star quarterback, Bernie Kosar.

    The slim 39-37 victory came in large part to Bono's exceptional play.

    Professionally, the quarterback carved out quite a nice niche for himself.

    The Pennsylvania native played 14 years in the NFL. He was mostly a backup, but he did earn the honor as a Pro Bowler during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1995.

    In that season, he was also named as the AFC Player of the Year.  

    An interesting side note is that Bono's son Christoph is currently a member of the football team at UCLA.

Wayne Cook (1991-94)

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    Wayne Cook accomplished quite an impressive feat during his UCLA career, never losing to USC.

    The Trojan slayer beat the Bruins' crosstown rival twice as the starting quarterback from 1993-94. 

    During the 1993 season, he defeated the Trojans in the final regular-season game, ultimately earning a berth to the 1994 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.

    The Newbury Park, Calif. native threw for an impressive 4,723 yards during his tenure in Westwood.

    He also had a scintillating touchdown-to-incerception ratio, throwing for 34 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

    A professional career never materialized for Cook, but he'll go down as one of the most successful quarterbacks to ever play at UCLA.

Billy Kilmer (1958-60)

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    Billy Kilmer was both an incredibly productive college and professional player.

    "Whiskey Red" (as he was affectionately known) played the single-wing halfback position for the Bruins. His responsibilities entailed throwing the ball, running the ball and even punting. 

    In 1960, he led the nation in total offense.

    Professionally, Kilmer enjoyed a long 17-year career. His ability to throw the ball was quite evident, as he tallied 20,495 yards to go along with 152 touchdowns. 

    Kilmer was involved in one of the more infamous plays in NFL history, where he fumbled the ball only to have former Minnesota Vikings player Jim Marshall run the wrong way with the fumble recovery.

Cade McNown (1995-98)

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    Cade McNown's four years as the Bruins signal-caller were truly outstanding.

    The lefty quarterback holds the all-time UCLA record with 68 career touchdown passes. He also holds the record for career passing yards (10,708) and completions (694).

    He led the Bruins to back-to-back double-digit-win seasons, including a Rose Bowl appearance in 1999. 

    Suffice it to say, his college career was stellar.  

    McNown demonstrated an awesome swagger on the field, and UCLA fans felt as if the Bruins were never out of any ballgame.

    A true aficionado with the football, he'd employ both intelligence and quick decision making. His ability to spread the ball around the field and utilize his teammates really did make him an incredible college player.

    Unfortunately, McNown couldn't translate his brilliance from college into the professional ranks.

    He washed out of the NFL after two porous seasons with the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.

    Despite his professional shortcomings, McNown will forever be loved by the Bruins fanbase.  

Drew Olson (2002-05)

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    Drew Olson is statistically one of the top two quarterbacks to ever play for the Bruins.

    The Piedmont, Calif. native threw for 67 touchdowns over the course of his college career—second to McNown's 68 touchdown passes.

    In the 45 games Olson played in college, he had 664 completions, ranking him second in UCLA history. He also ranks second in regards to career passing yards (8,532).

    Olson's senior season in 2005 was one for the ages.

    He not only led UCLA to a 10-2 season, but he also finished the year with 34 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. His 64 percent completion mark was also amongst the best in the nation. 

    While not blessed with tremendous physical gifts, Olson relied on guile, moxie and intelligence to play at a high level. 

    Despite not having any success in the professional ranks, Olson was undoubtedly the top quarterback to play at UCLA in the past decade. 

Tom Ramsey (1979-82)

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    Tom Ramsey captained one of the most exhilarating seasons for UCLA football to date. 

    In the 1983 season, Ramsey led an unexpected charge to a Rose Bowl, culminating in a victory over Michigan.

    The arduous journey to get to the Rose Bowl included an impressive duration of strong play by the aforementioned Ramsey.

    In the third game of the 1983 season, he overcame a 21-point deficit and beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. It marked the first time UCLA had ever beaten Michigan. 

    The Granada Hills, Calif. native also took down John Elway's Stanford Cardinal squad in a thrilling shootout, 38-35. 

    The icing on the proverbial cake was when Ramsey defeated USC, signifying a berth into the contest against Michigan.

    It also marked the first time that UCLA had ever played USC in the Rose Bowl.

    In terms of personal accolades, Ramsey's resume is jam-packed.

    Not only was Ramsey the MVP of the Rose Bowl victory over Michigan, but he was also elected to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2007.

    Throughout his career, Ramsey threw 50 touchdown passes—the third most by any UCLA quarterback in the school's history behind Olson (67) and McNown (68).

    His excellence was recognized by his alma mater, as he was elected into the UCLA Hall of Fame.  

John Sciarra (1973-75)

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    John Sciarra starred in one of the more memorable football games in UCLA's history.

    In 1976, the Bruins went up against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes were 15-point  favorites in this game, and not many believed that the Bruins had a shot at being victorious.

    Not only was Ohio State the nation's top-ranked team, but they were also undefeated.

    However, Sciarra re-wrote the preconceived script and led the Bruins to a triumphant 23-10 victory.

    The UCLA quarterback went 13-of-19 for 212 yards and two touchdowns.

    Although Sciarra had a pedestrian professional career statistically, he still managed to play professionally for eight years.

    He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1991, and was an All-American in 1975.  

Bob Waterfield (1942-45)

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    If Aikman is the best quarterback to ever come from UCLA, Waterfield is a close second.

    Waterfield had a solid tenure in Westwood. He led the Bruins to the Pacific Coast Conference championship in 1942.

    Not only was he the starting quarterback, but he was also the kicker, punter and acted as a defensive back.

    He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1945, and became the first rookie to win the league's Most Valuable Player award. 

    Waterfield's prowess on the field stretched to the realm of kicking with fantastic results. He still holds the UCLA and Rams record for longest punts—91 and 88 yards, respectively.

    In Waterfield's professional career, he finished with 97 touchdowns and 11,849 passing yards. The athlete also was a two-time NFL champion (winning in 1945 and 1951).

    He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

    Waterfield aptly personifies the term "versatile" when speaking about football players.