College Football: Which Programs Produce the Most Starting NFL Quarterbacks?

Luis AlbertoCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2008

At the beginning of the football season, I did an analysis of where all of the quarterbacks in the NFL went to college.  What I found was, for the most part, fairly random.  The schools that produce the current NFL quarterbacks ranged from the classic (USC, Michigan, Miami) to the not quite so expected (Alabama State, Akron). 

However, many things  have changed since I wrote that article, so I've decided to update it—at least with regards to the starters.

I'm going to break this analysis into three parts.

1)  Players that are their teams' presumed starters  as of today (3/21/2008).  This could change between now and the beginning of the season.  Refer to "2008 Presumed Starters" below.

 2)  I'll sprinkle in players that have a good chance of starting a handful of games becomes of the starter's tenuous hold on the starting job.  An example of this is Joey Harrington in Atlanta.  As of right now, he looks like the starter—but there is likely another veteran on the roster that will start a few games, even if they do pick up Matt Ryan.  This is list is "2008 High-Probablity Replacements." This does not factor in injuries to a starter.

 3)  The third is a list of the three rookies that I'm guessing have a chance of playing 2008.  Those are Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Brian Brohm.  "2008 Potential Rookie Starter".

So, here we go.

The alma maters for the presumed starters in 2008, once again, yield  very scattered results. The 32 presumed 2008 starters represent 30 universities.  Only Oregon (Kellen Clemens and Joey Harrington, neither of whom have a stronghold on the position) and USC (Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart) have at two quarterbacks starting in the NFL.

The interesting thing about Oregon is that neither one of those players was the team's starter in early 2007.  Harrington took over after Vick was incarcerated and Clemens, a rookie in 2007, took over for a largely ineffective Chad Pennington.

Other interesting notes about the presumed crop of starters:

  • Heading into the 2007 season, Marshall had two quarterbacks (Pennington and Byron Leftwich) at the top of their teams' presumptive depth charts. Heading into 200, they don't have any.
  • The list of 2008 starters' colleges include Alabama State, Alcorn State, Central Washington, East Carolina, Eastern Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami Ohio, San Jose State, and Vanderbilt.
  • More traditional programs like Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, UCLA, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State, and many others have none. 
  • In the 80s the University of Miami produced Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, and Vinnie Testaverde.  Now, Miami of Ohio has more starting NFL quarterbacks then the U.
  • The breakdown among the major conferences is as follows: SEC and Pac-10 (seven each), ACC (three), Big East and Big Ten (two each) and the Big 12 (one).  However, Matt Hasselbeck was a member of the Big East when he played, so you can make the case that the Big East has three and the ACC has two. 
  • The Pac-10 and ACC make up 44 percent of all of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL.  And none of the SEC schools have more than one starter.  That's seven players from 7 (out of 12) schools. 
  • In case you're wondering, the five SEC colleges without a starter are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and South Carolina.

If you sprinkle in the 15 other players that I think have a very good chance to start, you suddenly have Michigan leading the pack with 3 quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Brian Griese, and Todd Collins).  Purdue (adding Kyle Orton to Drew Brees) and Cal (Aaron Rogers and Kyle Boller) are the only other schools that would now have two starters.

The interesting thing about the Michigan situation is that it is not too far-fetched that those three players could be their teams' starters for large portions of the season.  Todd Collins did a great job in injury relief last year and Brian Griese is backing up the historically ineffective Rex Grossman.  It is important to point out that Purdue and Michigan both jumped on this list because of Rex Grossman's situation.  Orton and Griese are probably both going to get some playing time due to Grossman's, and then each other's, ineffectiveness.

A few more notes:

  • With the additional players, the Pac-10 now has 10 players (Andrew Walter of ASU, Damon Huard of Washington, and Boller from Cal were added from the Pac-10).
  • Michigan's influx of players now puts the Big Ten, with eight quarterbacks, ahead of the SEC, who added nobody.  The players added by the Big 10 were the aforementioned Michigan and Purdue players, plus Drew Stanton from Michigan State, Brooks Bollinger from Wisconsin, and Troy Smith from Ohio State.
  • The new scenario would have 7 out of the 10 PAC 10 schools with a starting quarterback in the NFL.  The 4 without one would be UCLA, Washington State (with Drew Bledsoe's retirement) and  Arizona.

Adding in the rookies would give BC and Louisville two starting quarterbacks each.  Although, Chris Redman's career is on borrowed time.  In fact, there's a very good chance that Chris Redman will be one step closer to the trash heap because of one of the three rookie quarterbacks I mention.  If the Falcons draft Matt Ryan, then you have to figure Chris Redman is no better than the third-string quarterback by the middle of the year, and probably out once the season ends.

So. as a conclusion, I guess I would say that, if you look at schools individually, the results are very scattered.  Alcorn State has more starting quarterbacks than Notre Dame.  However, consider that the SEC and Pac-10 will probably represent 14 day-one starters.  And, the Big Ten has a chance to have as many as eight at some point in the year. 

The power conferences rule the roost.  But, while the Drew Hensons, Brian Grieses and Tom Bradys of the world were battling for playing time in Ann Arbor, players like Jay Cutler and David Garrard were able to learn on the field—without the competition just to get on the field—and establish themselves into NFL-caliber players.  I don't know what works in the end.  But it's fun trying to figure it out.

2008 Presumed Starters

Buffalo Bills – Trent Edwards  - Stanford

Miami Dolphins – John Beck  - BYU

New England Patriots – Tom Brady  - Michigan

New York Jets – Kellen Clemens  - Oregon

Baltimore Ravens -  Steve McNair  - Alcorn State

Cincinnati Bengals – Carson Palmer  - USC

Cleveland Browns – Derek Anderson  - Oregon State

Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger  - Miami (Ohio)

Houston Texans – Matt Schaub  - Virginia

Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning  - Tennessee

Jacksonville Jaguars – David Garrard  - East Carolina

Tennessee Titans – Vince Young  - Texas

Denver Broncos – Jay Cutler  - Vanderbilt

Kansas City Chiefs – Brodie Croyle  - Alabama

Oakland Raiders – JaMarcus Russell - LSU

San Diego Chargers – Phillip Rivers  - NC State

Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo  - Eastern Illinois

New York Giants – Eli Manning  - Mississippi

Philadelphia Eagles – Donovan McNabb  - Syracuse

Washington Redskins – Jason Campbell  - Auburn

Chicago Bears – Rex Grossman  - Florida

Detroit Lions  - Jon Kitna  - Central Washington

Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rogers  - Cal

Minnesota Vikings – Tavaris Jackson  - Alabama State

Atlanta Falcons - Joey Harrington  - Oregon

Carolina Panthers – Jake Delhomme  - Louisiana - Lafayette

New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees  - Purdue

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jeff Garcia  - San Jose State

Arizona Cardinals – Matt Leinart  - USC

St. Louis Rams – Marc Bulger  - West Virginia

San Francisco 49ers – Alex Smith  - Utah

Seattle Seahawks – Matt Hasselback  - BC

2008 - High-Probability Replacements

Oakland Raiders - Andrew Walter - Arizona State

Cleveland Browns - Brady Quinn - ND

Chicago Bears - Brian Griese - Michigan

Minnesota Vikings - Brooks Bollinger - Wisconsin

New York Jets - Chad Pennington - Marshall

Atlanta Falcons - Chris Redman - Louisville

Kansas City Chiefs - Damon Huard - Washington

Detroit Lions - Drew Stanton - Michigan State

Miami Dolphins - Josh McCown - Sam Houston State

Buffalo Bills - JP Losman - Tulane

Baltimore Ravens - Kyle Boller - Cal

San Francisco 49ers - Shaun Hill - Maryland

Washington Redskins - Todd Collins - Michigan

Chicago Bears - Kyle Orton - Purdue

Baltimore Ravens - Troy Smith - Ohio State

2008 Potential Rookie Starters

Rookie - Matt Ryan - BC

Rookie - Brian Brohm - Louisville

Rookie - Joe Flacco - Delaware


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