Purdue Football: Rating the Best From the Cradle of Quarterbacks
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The Purdue University football team has yielded many high profile collegiate quarterbacks, earning the nickname "cradle of quarterbacks". Not only have Purdue's quarterbacks been successful in college, but many have been very successful at the next level. The school has produced NFL Pro-Bowlers, NFL Hall of Famers, and even Super Bowl MVPs; all at the quarterback position.
It was a difficult task, but I have chosen five Purdue quarterbacks that are considered the best in school history. Let's take a look at the top five.
5. Kyle Orton
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Kyle Orton started four consecutive bowl games, the most in school history. He tied the school record for most yards in a game, throwing for 522 yards against Indiana in 2003. At the start of 2004, Orton was a Preseason All-America selection, and following the 2004 season, Orton was voted first team all Big Ten.
He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Orton currently starts for the Denver Broncos.
4. Len Dawson
Len Dawson (Left)
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Len Dawson led the Big Ten conference in passing in each of his three years at Purdue. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency in 1954 as a sophomore. He also led Purdue to an upset win over Notre Dame, breaking their 13 game win streak.
Dawson was drafted in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft by Pittsburgh. He was the 1969 Super Bowl MVP with Kansas City, and was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame.
3. Bob Griese
Bob Griese on left with his son Brian, also an NFL quarterback.
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Bob Griese was a two time All-America selection and the 1966 Heisman Trophy runner-up. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
Griese was a multi-sport athlete, starring in baseball and basketball as well. Aside from quarterback, Griese played kicker and punter for Purdue. Griese led Purdue to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 1966.
Griese was the fourth pick in the first round of the 1967 common draft. He was the quarterback of the 1973 undefeated Miami Dolphins.
Griese was a six-time Pro-Bowl selection, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
2. Mark Herrmann
Purdue All-American Marching Band
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Mark Herrmann was a First Team All-American in 1980, the year in which he was also a Heisman Trophy finalist. Herrmann was the MVP of the 1978 Peach Bowl, 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl and 1980 Liberty Bowl. Herrmann was also the Big Ten MVP in 1980. Recently, he was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Herrmann was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 1981 NFL Draft. He played nine seasons in the NFL.
1. Drew Brees
Brees in the 2001 Rose Bowl
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Drew Brees in undoubtedly the best quarterback in Purdue history. Brees currently leads the Big Ten in career passing yards (11,792), touchdowns (90), and completions (12,693). He also owns the record for the longest completed pass in NCAA history, which came against Northwestern on September 25, 1999.
Brees was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. He was awarded the Big Ten MVP in 2000, the Maxwell Award, and the Academic All-America Player of the Year. He led Purdue to their first Rose Bowl appearance in 32 years.
Brees was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by San Diego. Brees' NFL accomplishments include 4 Pro-Bowl selections, the 2006 Walter Payton Man of the Year, three NFC Offensive Player of the Year awards, the 2009 Bert Bell Award, and the Super Bowl XLIV MVP.