The emergence of Michael Vick as one of the premiere quarterbacks in the NFL, as well as the impact made by Vince Young and Tim Tebow, has returned the so-called "dual-threat" quarterback to the lexicon of professional football.
Vick has 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns passing to go along with his 676 yards and nine touchdowns rushing so far this season. His ability to run with the ball and pass has created problems for opposing teams. It is fair to say, without Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles would not be in the playoffs.
Although their seasons were not nearly as successful, Tim Tebow and Vince Young have made an impact at the professional level. For a rookie, Tebow has certainly made his mark, and Young remains a potent dual threat and respected quarterback.
The emergence of Vick begs the question: Is the traditional view of the position in the NFL as primarily a pocket passer about to change? If Vick and the Eagles do well in the playoffs, will other teams begin to value the dual-threat quarterback more?
There are so many more options open to teams when they have a legitimate dual threat—they can wreak havoc. Will Vick cause the NFL to rethink the value of dual-threat draft prospects?
With a true dual threat having recently won the Heisman, will Cam Newton find success at the next level? Are there other dual threats poised to make the impact Vick, Young and Tebow have?
These questions prompted me to ask: Who were the best dual-threat quarterbacks at the collegiate level? To answer the question, it became necessary to identify the measures that define the dual threat. Since by definition, a dual threat implies production based upon passing as well as rushing, these stats come to mind:
1. Total career passing and rushing yards
2. Passing and rushing yards in consecutive seasons
3. Rushing yards by a quarterback
4. Rushing touchdowns by a quarterback
These stats I would argue, best capture the essence of the dual-threat quarterback. So, lets see who measures up.
Total career passing and rushing yards.
The top college quarterbacks in this category were Antwaan Randle El (7,469 / 3,895 yards) Joshua Cribbs (7,169 / 3,670) and Brad Smith (8,799 / 4,289). Smith's record has been shattered, however, as Nevada's Colin Kaepernick has already accumulated 9,906 yards passing and 4,090 yards rushing, the only player in NCAA history to surpass 9,000 / 4,000. With a bowl game remaining, it is possible Kaepernick could break the 10,000 / 4,000 mark.
Passing and rushing yards in consecutive seasons.
Brad Smith, Joe Webb (UAB) and Kaepernick were the only players to pass for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 twice in their careers. Webb and Kaepernick are the only players to have done it in consecutive seasons. Once again, Kaepernick has shattered this record, having already done it this season. Thus, he is the only player in NCAA history to have surpassed 2,000 / 1,000 yards in three seasons.
Rushing yards by a quarterback.
This record is held by Pat White with 4,480. Brad Smith has 4,289. Kaepernick has lock on third place all time with 4,090, as it is unlikely he will get the 199 yards he needs to move into second place in his one remaining college bowl game.
Rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
That record was held by Eric Crouch (59) and Tim Tebow (57). That is, until a couple of weeks ago when, in one game, Kaepernick surpassed Tebow and tied Crouch with three rushing touchdowns against Louisiana Tech. With one remaining game, it is likely Kaepernick will set the new all-time NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
It is interesting to note that Kaepernick has better stats—much better stats—than Vick, Tebow or Young had in their college careers.
Few would argue that dual-threat quarterbacks have not made an impact at the professional level. We will all be watching Michael Vick in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if his potent combination of arm and legs will spell success.
If so, the stock of NFL draft prospects like Newton and Kaepernick could rise. Newton, a true dual threat, has lead his team to the BCS National Championship Game while collecting the Heisman.
Kaepernick lead his team to their best season ever, finishing 12-1 with a share of the WAC title and a win over previously undefeated Boise State. Nevada faces Boston College on January 9 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, which will give the nation a chance to see the most productive dual threat in NCAA history potentially set a new rushing touchdown mark by a quarterback.
The success Vick has enjoyed this year may enhance the prospects for other dual threats. If the dual threat is a dangerous weapon, there may be none better than Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, arguably the best dual threat in NCAA history.