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SEC Football: The Top 15 Quarterbacks in SEC History

Joey HnathCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2017

SEC Football: The Top 15 Quarterbacks in SEC History

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    The Southeastern Conference, widely regarded as the premier football conference in the country, has a great history, producing some of the finest football talents to ever play the game.

    This is especially true at quarterback.  Several of the top gunslingers to ever play college football have done so in the SEC.

    Unlike other conferences, the top quarterbacks of the SEC don’t all come from the same two or three schools, nor are they from the same time period.

    Covering seven teams and spanning more than 50 years, here are the 15 greatest quarterbacks in SEC history.

15. Kenny Stabler, Alabama

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    Stabler’s time in Tuscaloosa was shaky to say the least.

    Coach Bear Bryant had him kicked off the team midway through his senior year, only to be reinstated shortly thereafter.

    On the field, Stabler was exceptional, posing a threat to defenses on the ground and through the air.

    He finished with a career record of 28-3-2 and is best remembered for his play against Auburn his senior year, when he scored the winning touchdown on the ground, which is known as the “Run in the Mud” to Bama fans.

14. Fran Tarkenton, Georgia

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    Growing up in Athens, Ga., it was a no-brainer for Tarkenton to attend UGA.

    The local product turned out to become one of the greatest Bulldogs ever, leading the 1959 Dawgs to an SEC championship.

    His wizardry at quarterback has been matched by very few at UGA since his departure.

13. Tim Couch, Kentucky

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    Quite possibly the greatest quarterback in Kentucky history, as well as one of its best recruits ever, Couch put Kentucky on the college football map during his three years in Lexington.

    In his senior season, he led the Wildcats to a seven-win season and a New Year’s Day bowl game.

    Couch set several NCAA records, including most completions in a season, though many have since been broken.

12. Shane Matthews, Florida

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Matthews’ illustrious career in Gainesville is highlighted by the Gators’ first official SEC championship in 1991.

    In each of his three years as starting quarterback, Matthews was first team All-SEC.  He also was named the SEC MVP in 1990 and 1991.

11. Joe Namath, Alabama

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    Coach Bear Bryant called Namath “the greatest athlete I ever coached.”

    This came after his playing days in Tuscaloosa, as Namath’s relationship with Bryant was rocky.

    Despite butting heads with his coach, Namath finished his career with a 29-4 record and led Alabama during its 1964 national championship season.

10. Heath Shuler, Tennessee

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    Shuler was regarded as one of the SEC’s best while playing in Knoxville, and it’s hard to think otherwise.

    His best season came in 1993, when he threw for 25 touchdowns while winning the SEC MVP award and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

9. Pat Sullivan, Auburn

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    The 1971 Heisman Trophy winner was a standout for the Tigers in the early 1970s.

    Sullivan led Auburn to a 26-7 record while starting at quarterback, and at the time set several NCAA records, including most total touchdowns with 71.

8. Eli Manning

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    The former Mississippi quarterback set 45 passing records during his stay in Oxford.

    Manning also is fifth on the SEC’s passing yards list and third on SEC touchdown passes list.

    His senior season culminated with winning the SEC MVP and finishing third in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

7. Cam Newton, Auburn

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    Though he only started one full season in the SEC, Cam Newton left a mark on the conference and its record book.

    Newton broke the SEC record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback, and also became the first SEC quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

    His successful 2010 campaign helped land him the Heisman Trophy and a BCS National Championship.

6. Steve Spurrier, Florida

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    Before becoming one of the best coaches in the game, Spurrier was one of the all-time greats in Florida Gator history.

    The two-time All-American led the Gators to an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 1966, as well as claiming the Heisman Trophy for himself that same season.

5. David Greene, Georgia

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    Greene was a four-year at Georgia and helped bring the Dawgs back to the ranks of the nation’s elite.

    He led the Dawgs to the SEC title in 2002 while being named first team All-SEC.

    Greene is the SEC’s career leader in yards passing and ranks second all time in wins by a quarterback in NCAA history.

4. Peyton Manning, Tennessee

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    There is very little Manning didn’t do while at Tennessee.

    In four years as a starter, Manning broke the SEC career passing yards mark and the NCAA record for most wins as a quarterback, both of which were subsequently broken by David Greene.

    In his sophomore season, he led the Vols to a No. 3 ranking to finish the year, and in his senior season, he led Tennessee to an SEC championship.

    Manning won the Maxwell and the O’Brien awards his season year and finished second in the Heisman.

3. Danny Wuerffel, Florida

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    The two-time All-American had an extraordinary career at Florida.

    He was an SEC champion all four years in Gainesville and was named the game’s MVP in 1995 and 1996.

    Wuerffel capped off his senior season with a Heisman Trophy and Florida’s first-ever national championship.

2. Tim Tebow, Florida

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    One of the most decorated players to ever play, Tim Tebow was the face of the sport while playing at Florida.

    The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner was the first underclassman to ever win the award.

    Tebow also won national championships in 2006 and 2008.

    He finished his career with 88 passing touchdowns and an SEC-record 57 rushing touchdowns.

1. Archie Manning, Ole Miss

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    Archie Manning is the top quarterback to ever play in the SEC.

    He was a three-year starter at Ole Miss, where he carried the team almost single-handedly.  Though at first it appears only slightly above average, Manning’s 15-7 career record is quite an accomplishment considering the lack of talent surrounding him at Mississippi.

    His career highlights include two top-four finishes in the Heisman balloting and an NCAA record 540-yard performance against Alabama in the first-ever prime time broadcast of a college football game in 1969.

    Manning’s legacy not only at Ole Miss, but in the SEC, is unmatched.

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