Big 12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

Big 12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Quarterbacks of All Time

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Big 12 is certainly known for its prolific history of gunslingers. 

    So ranking the top 10 quarterbacks in the conference's 18-year history is a bit of a challenge. Guys like Collin Klein, Eric Crouch, Todd Reesing, Nick Florence and Major Applewhite were all staples of their teams, and each arguably the best quarterback in the conference while they played. 

    And they didn't make the cut. 

    The final list contains three Heisman Trophy winners, two national champions and plenty of others who took the college football landscape by storm.

    With that, checkout B/R's top 10 quarterbacks in Big 12 history. 

10. Chase Daniel

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    Chase Daniel brought the Missouri Tigers to new heights in the late 2000s. In 2007, the Tigers finished the year 12-2, played in the Big 12 title game and won the Cotton Bowl over Arkansas 38-7. 

    That year was Daniel's second as the starter for the Tigers and was arguably his best. He racked up 4,306 passing yards and 33 touchdowns while completing 68 percent of his passes. 

    The Tigers as a whole took a step backwards in 2008, going just 10-4 and appearing in the Alamo Bowl. But Daniel's numbers improved nonetheless, as he completed nearly 73 percent of his passes for 4,335 yards and 39 scores. 

    Now the backup to Alex Smith with the Kansas City Chiefs, Daniel set the standard for success at Mizzou and is possibly the best player to ever step foot in Columbia. 

9. Jason White

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    SUE OGROCKI/Associated Press

    While his career after college fizzled out big time, Jason White is still hands down one of the best to ever do it in the Big 12. 

    In his last two seasons at Oklahoma (2003-2004), White accumulated over 7,000 passing yards, 75 touchdowns through the air, two Davey O'Brien Awards, a Heisman Trophy and two national championship appearances. 

    When White left Oklahoma, he left as the school's leader in career passing yards and passing touchdowns, an impressive feat given the list of passers the school has produced in the last 15 years. 

    White may have never brought home a national title to Norman, but he dominated nearly everybody he faced during his time as a Big 12 quarterback. 

    White is now a business owner in Oklahoma after quitting professional football shortly after going undrafted. 

8. Michael Bishop

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    K-State head coach Bill Snyder is credited with one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. And in 1998, that turnaround was capitalized with a No. 1 ranking late in that season.

    Along with Snyder, the transformation was made possible by quarterback Michael Bishop, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy race that year losing to Ricky Williams. 

    The Wildcats fell in a massive upset loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game. Had the Wildcats won that game, it's thought that not only Bishop would have won the Heisman but that K-State would've appeared in what would have been the program's only national championship game. 

    Bishop finished his career in the Little Apple, which lasted just two seasons, with 4,401 passing yards, 1,314 rushing yards and 59 total touchdowns.

    K-State has since won two Big 12 titles and had just one more Heisman Trophy finalist—Collin Klein. 

7. Brandon Weeden

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    During his stint as the starting quarterback of the Oklahoma State, Brandon Weeden, at the tail end of his 20s, became the most prolific passer in Cowboys history.

    In 2011 Weeden racked up 4,727 passing yards and 37 scores and led his team to a Big 12 title as well as a 41-38 Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford. The former pro baseball player left Stillwater as the school's single-season leader in passing yards, total offense and completion percentage.

    Weeden hasn't panned out yet in the NFL after being taken by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. But his accomplishments with the Pokes rank him among the best in Big 12 history.

6. Graham Harrell

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    CHIP ENGLISH/Associated Press

    Who can forget Graham Harrell's last-second pass to Michael Crabtree on the right sideline, followed by Crabtree shaking a defender and tip-toeing his way into the end zone to shock then-top ranked Texas back in 2008?

    Well, Harrell did much more than find Crabtree for the game-winning score against the Longhorns. During his time in Lubbock, he set Big 12 records for career passing yards (which has since been broken by Landry Jones), career passing touchdowns, and was the 2008 AT&T All-America Player of the Year.

    He also set the NCAA record for career passing touchdowns with 134, then breaking Colt Brennan's record of 131. That number has since been broken by both Case Keenum and Kellen Moore.

    While the Red Raiders have certainly had a lot of prolific passers, none were better than Graham Harrell. Harrell took the team to new heights under Mike Leach, and those heights have yet to be repeated since Leach's departure.

5. Sam Bradford

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    One of just three Heisman Trophy winners on this list, Sam Bradford is certainly a top five quarterback in Big 12 history.

    Bradford ranks seventh in league history in single season passing yards with 4,720 in 2008. That season also saw the Sooners go 12-2 and lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship.

    After a wildly successful two years as the starter in 2007 and 2008, Bradford saw his Oklahoma career cut short due to injury in 2009. He finished his career as a Sooner with 8,403 passing yards and 88 touchdowns through the air.

    In addition to being one of just three Heisman winners on this list, Bradford is also one of just two that have had any sort of reputable success at the NFL level, as he's currently the starter for the St. Louis Rams. Robert Griffin III is the only other guy listed to find success at the pro level, and even he's coming off a pretty rough 2013 season.

4. Landry Jones

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    While Sam Bradford may have a Heisman Trophy, it was Landry Jones' sustained success over four years, which made him the Big 12's all-time leader in passing yards, that earns him a higher ranking than Bradford on this list.

    From 2009-2012, Jones, though he never won a Heisman, was the face of the Big 12 quarterbacks. In his final three years, he racked up no fewer than 4,200 yards through the air. The only reason he didn't reach that mark his freshman year is that he was forced to replace Bradford midway through the season after the latter suffered an injury.

    Even still, Jones recorded 3,198 yards that season and helped lead the Sooners to an 8-5 record and a Sun Bowl win over Stanford.

    Jones is third all-time in NCAA passing yards with 16,646. He trails only Case Keenum, who saw action in parts of five seasons at Houston, and Hawaii's Timmy Chang, who also played in at least parts of five seasons.

    His longstanding success in Norman places Jones among the top five signal-callers in Big 12 history.

3. Robert Griffin III

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Who can argue against Robert Griffin III, one of the most exciting and electrifying Heisman Trophy winners of all time, as being a top three quarterback in Big 12 history?

    While RGIII won his Heisman and had his best year in 2011, he was over the entire course of his four-year tenure one of the deadliest offensive weapons in the conference. Though Griffen spent most the 2009 season out due to injury, the future No. 2 overall NFL draft pick still racked up over 12,000 total yards and 111 total touchdowns.

    That 2011 season not only saw Baylor go 10-3 and win the Alamo Bowl, it also set a new standard of football excellence in Waco. What RGIII started has since been continued by quarterback Bryce Petty, who delivered the school's first-ever Big 12 title last year.

2. Vince Young

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    When college football fans think about the greatest single game performances by a college player, Vince Young's effort against USC in Texas' national championship win following the 2005 season has to come to mind.

    Who will ever forget Young scampering into the corner of the end zone on fourth down to win the game for the Longhorns? 

    Young's showing in that game alone qualifies him for this list. But it was his entire body of work that puts him as the second-best signal-caller in Big 12 history. Over three seasons in Austin, Young finished with 6,040 passing yards, 3,127 rushing yards and 81 total touchdowns. He also threw just 28 picks in three years. 

    Like most guys on this list, Young didn't pan out in the NFL. But he'll go down in history as one of the best the Big 12 has ever seen.

1. Colt McCoy

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Nobody has won more games in Big 12 history as a starting quarterback than Colt McCoy. His 45 victories as the starter from 2006-09 rank second in NCAA history and first in conference history.

    That's why McCoy is the top quarterback in Big 12 history. Nobody won at a higher level over four seasons better than McCoy did.

    Not only did McCoy win a lot, he was a heck of a passer as well. He is Texas' all-time career leader in touchdown passes (112), passing yards (13,253), completions (1,157) as well as plenty of other records that will almost certainly go unbroken.

    After McCoy was injured against Alabama in the 2010 BCS title game, many thought that the injury and the lack of McCoy's leadership is what cost the Longhorns a shot at the national championship.

    Since McCoy's departure, the Longhorns have struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position. David Ash hasn't been consistent, and McCoy's younger brother Case didn't pan out. In fact, many point to Texas' struggles to find a quarterback as a big reason for Mack Brown's ouster from the Longhorns.

    At the end of the day, McCoy may not have a national title or a Heisman to his name. But he has more wins than anybody else to ever play quarterback in the Big 12, and he was one of the league's best for the better half of a decade.

    That earns the top spot on this list.